Hilma af Klint exhibition, the Guggenheim museum October 2018 - April 2019. Photograph courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.
In 2019, Hilma af Klint’s work broke records at the Guggenheim Museum in New York as the most visited exhibition in the museum’s history with over 600,000 people viewing it in less than 6 months. If millions of people are seeing her artwork around the world, what makes her paintings so ‘secret’?
Hilma af Klint at her studio at Hamngatan 5, Stockholm c1895. Photograph courtesy the Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm.
Born in Stockholm in 1862, af Klint became heavily involved in theosophy and spiritualism, performing séances and communicating with higher spirits. She was spiritually guided to paint a collection of artworks for a "spiral temple" and spent the early years of the 1900's painting just under 200 pieces. These paintings, predate any records of abstract styled artworks produced by anyone, including her famous male contemporaries such as Kandinsky, Pollock and Mondrian. When she died in 1944, she left a collection of over 1200 paintings and an array of notebooks and journals detailing her discoveries and research to her nephew, with specific instructions to not show them for at least 20 years after her death as she didn’t believe the world was ready to see them.
Af Klint’s monumental canvases are characterized by her free-wheeling swirls, pastel curlicues and almost psychedelic vocabulary of unrestrained movement. Discover for yourself and fall in love.