From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Nature and history of the kiss
The origins of the kiss were studied in the early 20th century by natural historian Ernest Crawley (see Studies of Savages and Sex ). He wrote that kissing was "a universal expression in the social life of the higher civilizations of the feelings of affection, love (sexual, parental, and filial), and veneration." According to Crawley, touch is 'the mother of the senses,' and the kiss was a tactile and specialized form of intimate contact. However, he notes that the act of kissing was very rare among the "lower and semi-civilized races," but was "fully established as instinctive in the higher societies." Yet even among higher civilizations Crawley saw differences: while the kiss seems to have been unknown to ancient Egypt, it was well established in early Greece, Assyria, and India.
The kiss of lovers, according to 19th century anthropologist Cesare Lombroso, originated and evolved from the maternal kiss. Crawley supports this view by noting that Japanese society, before the 20th century, was "ignorant of the kiss except as applied by a mother to her infant," while in Africa and "other uncivilized regions," it was commonly observed that neither husbands and wives, or lovers, kissed one another. However, among the Greeks and Latins kissing was common as when parents kissed their children or lovers and married persons kissed. The kiss in Western societies was also used in various religious and ceremonial acts, as where the kiss had a sacramental value. Crawley concludes that generally, although kissing was prevalent in some form since primitive times, it "received its chief development in Western culture."
Within the natural world of animals there are numerous analogies, notes Crawley, such as "the billing of birds, the cataglottism of pigeons and the antennal play of some insects." Even among higher animals such as the dog, cat and bear, similar behavior is noted. See also Biology and evolution, below.
- Works entitled The Kiss were painted by both Gustav Klimt, Francesco Hayez and Edvard Munch.
- Auguste Rodin created the sculpture The Kiss (Le Baiser).
- Andy Warhol made an avant-garde film, Kiss, closeups of couples kissing.
- The French photographer Robert Doisneau shot a couple kissing by the Hotel de Ville (Paris) in 1950. The photo, later called "The Kiss," is now considered a classic, a fact one couple alleging to be the subjects of the photo attempted to exploit in their unsuccessful 1990s lawsuit against the photographer.
Johannes Secundus (also Janus Secundus) (15 November 1511 – 25 September 1536) was a New Latin poet of Dutch nationality. His most famous work was the Liber Basiorum (Book of Kisses, first complete edition 1541), a short collection consisting of nineteen poems in various metres, in which the poet explores the theme of the kiss.