The Kiss, 1897 by Edvard Munch

Munch created many works in a thematic vein, including The Kiss, and exhibited them along side each other in what he called The Freize of Life. The themes in the series ranged from love and death, sex, anxiety, infidelity, jealousy and the stages of life, and included the famous painting The Scream. This painting captures an intimate moment between two nudes, the woman pulling the man towards her in a lover's embrace, mouths locked in a passionate kiss, and is an example of Munch's theme of the femme fatal as the dominant creature, taking control to feed her sexual appetite.

There are four variations of the woodcut on this theme. The Kiss I and II were produced in 1897 and were among Munch's earliest woodcuts. The Kiss III was created in 1898 and The Kiss IV in 1902. In each case the artist varies the nuances of the background by using different blocks that have been somewhat modified.

Munch painted this motif several times between 1892 and 1897. The version in the National Museum dates from 1892. The subject was first executed in print in an etching from 1895. Munch frequently returned to his previous motifs in order to explore them in other media. The characteristics of the various media enabled him to seek new expressive possibilities.