Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hilma af Klint

The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung for April 17 contains the news about an exhibition at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm’s National Museum of Modern Art, planned for 2013. It will be a retrospective of Hilma af Klint, who was born in 1862 in Sweden and died there in 1944. While Kandinsky is credited with creating his abstract paintings as early as 1911, Hilma af Klint was working in the same way much earlier, as this exhibition will show. Using sketches, notes and diaries from the painter’s estate, “Diese Ausstellung wird Hilma af Klint als Urheberin des ersten abstrakten Bildes der Moderne auf den Plan der Kunstgeschichte bringen. (This exhibition will put Hilma af Klint as the author of the first abstract image of modernity on the map of art history.)”

Of course her interest in Mme. Blavatsky is mentioned. Theosophy is portrayed as a kind of Masonry for women: “Sie hatten plötzlich Zugang zur Metaphysik, den höheren Sphären also, die als unentbehrlich für die Schaffung großer Kunstwerke galten. (They suddenly had access to metaphysics, so to the higher spheres, which were considered essential to the creation of great art.)” Hilma af Klint also knew Rudolf Steiner. The rest of the article can be read here.

No doubt this exhibition will bring her work greater recognition. Hilma af Klint was never interested in selling her paintings or drawings. At her death in 1944, she willed her belongings to her nephew Erik af Klint. The will specified that her works should not be shown publicly until 20 years after her death. It took, however, 40 years before Hilma af Klint’s art was first shown to the public at an exhibit on spiritual art in Los Angeles in 1986. The first large separate exhibition in Sweden was in 1989 at Moderna Museet in Stockholm. In 1998, Södertälje konsthall had a large exhibit with focus on her anthroposophic period. The entire Paintings for the Temple series was shown at the Liljevalchs konsthall in 1999. Today, the collection is owned by the Hilma af Klint Foundation.

There was an exhibition of her paintings at BildMuseet, Umeå, Sweden, in 2004, titled “Geometry and Spirituality,” and one in the Netherlands in 2010.

Hilma af Klint, Diary page

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