In the 1960s, vice-admiral Erik af Klint opened a crate of art. It had been left to him by his aunt with strict instructions that it should remain sealed for some twenty years after her death. What Erik found was a remarkable cache of work that would throw into question everything we believe about the beginning of abstract art. You see, five years before Kadinsky and Mondrian began their forays into abstractionism, a Swedish woman named Hilma af Klint had received a special commission: to create a remarkable collection of work that would adorn a spiral temple. But who was this great benefactor? It was no businessman or high-ranking official, but rather the High Master Amaleil, who communicated the missive to af Klint in a séance she held regularly with her closest friends, a collective of women known as ‘The Five’. Af Klint went on to create an extraordinary body of boldly colourful, geometric and highly symbolic art, all guided by the spirtual masters with whom she regularly communed.
So, light some candles and settle in as we delve into the fascinating world of Theosophy, Rosicrucianism and Hilma af Klint’s astonishing proto-abstractionism!
Af Klint, Johann and Hedvig Ersman. “Inspiration and Influence: The Spiritual Journey of Artist Hilma af Klint” Guggenheim. 11 October, 2018, https://www.guggenheim.org/blogs/checklist/inspiration-and-influence-the-spiritual-journey-of-artist-hilma-af-klint
Ferren, Andrew. “In Search of Hilma af Klint, Who Upended Art History, But Left Few Traces” The New York Times. 21 October, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/21/travel/stockholm-hilma-af-klint.html
Schjeldahl, Peter. “Hilma af Klint’s Visionary Paintings”. The New Yorker. 18 October, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/22/hilma-af-klints-visionary-paintings
Smith, Roberta. “’Hilma Who?’ No More”. The New York Times. 11 October, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/11/arts/design/hilma-af-klint-review-guggenheim.html
Utkan Özden, Hatice. “What Did the High Masters Tell Hilma af Klint?” border_less.https://www.border-l-e-s-s.com/new-page-63
Yao, John. “Hilma af Klint, Outlier for the Ages”. Hyperallergic. 25 November, 2018, https://hyperallergic.com/472426/hilma-af-klint-paintings-for-the-future-solomon-r-guggenheim-museum/
The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890–1985, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA. November 23, 1986 – March 8, 1987.
Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, USA. October 12, 2018 – April 23, 2019