In 1907 Brancusi began to carve his materials directly, pioneering a new approach to sculpture. This broke with the accepted practice of modelling in clay and sending the resulting model to be enlarged in marble by specialist craftsmen.

Brancusi modified these practices to his own personal vision. He worked briefly in the studio of Auguste Rodin but soon moved away from the realist approach to sculpture in which he had been trained. Instead he adopted the idea of the symbolic narrative and understood his works as forms of universal significance.

This is immediately evident in The Kiss, begun in 1907. The embracing couple are schematic figures, acting as a sign of ideal union. The woman and man are almost, though not quite, indistinguishable. This stylisation was encouraged by Brancusi’s interest in ancient arts. Like the medieval masons, he carved the block himself (note the manageable scale of his works) and believed that the completed sculpture emerged from a cooperation with the material. In the series of The Kiss, the original block of stone from which the figures are carved remains visible, encouraging concentration on the ideals embodied by the couple rather than their individual selves.