From humorously clinical depictions of erotic events in the Dada period, such as Little Machine Constructed by Minimax Dadamax in Person, Max Ernst moved on to celebrations of uninhibited sexuality
in his Surrealist works. His liaison and marriage with the young Marie-Berthe Aurenche in 1927 may have inspired the erotic subject matter of this painting and others of this year. The major
compositional lines of this work may have been determined by the configurations of string that Ernst dropped on a preparatory surface, a procedure according with Surrealist notions of the importance
of chance effects. However, Ernst used a coordinate grid system to transfer his string configurations to canvas, thus subjecting these chance effects to conscious manipulation. Visually, the
technique produces undulating calligraphic rhythms, like those traced here against the glowing earth and sky colors.
The centralized, pyramidal grouping and the embracing gesture of the upper figure in The Kiss
have lent themselves to comparison with Renaissance compositions, specifically
The Virgin and Child with St Anne
by Leonardo da Vinci
. The Leonardo
work was the subject of a psychosexual interpretation by Sigmund Freud
, whose writings were important to Ernst and other Surrealists. The adaptation of a religious
subject would add an edge of blasphemy to the exuberant lasciviousness of Ernst's picture.