Hilma af Klint – Pioneer of Abstraction

The Ten Largest, No. 3 Youth Group IV, 1907 by Hilma af Klint 324 x 240 cm

The Ten Largest, No. 3
Youth Group IV, 1907
by Hilma af Klint

I became aware of Hilma af Klint about 15 years ago from an essay and photo of her work published in a museum catalog entitled “The Spiritual in Art”. I had only seen four or five small paintings at the Modern Museum in Stockholm, though I looked for her work and more information about her many times over the years. I knew she was from Sweden and worked in the early part of the 20th century and that she was way ahead of her time – even before other pioneers of abstraction in Russia and Europe such as Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian. She didn’t exhibit her abstract paintings in public and had specified that they could not be shown until after her death.

How thrilled I was to see that Moderna Museet Stockholm put on a huge show in Spring 2013 of over 200 pieces of her works (out of a collection of around 1000). It was stunning and well-selected. She worked quickly and in very large scale – a whole series of paintings are over three meters tall. She believed that as a medium she received the abstract paintings from her higher consciousness. Not unusual now, but way radical for her time. From an aesthetic perspective her paintings are as wild and fresh as anything you’d see produced today and full of her own rich symbolism.

There is still a chance to see her work in “real life” in 2013 – 2014:
Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum in Berlin
June 15 – October 6, 2013

Museo Picasso Málaga
October 21, 2013 – February 9, 2014