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04.05.2013

 

Swans, lines, circles. The art of abstraction. Hilma af Klint at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet

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MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

Location: Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Photographer: GoSee

Painter Hilma af Klint (October 26, 1862 – October 21, 1944) is currently said to be the new Swedish discovery in painting. Today she is officially considered a pioneer of abstract art. Indeed, Hilma is held in the same high regard as her contemporaries Mondrian, Malevich and Kandinsky. Irony of fate.

Following a normal childhood with summers in the countryside and subsequent move to Stockholm with her family, Hilma studied at the renowned Academy of Fine Arts. The death of her younger sister Hermina in 1880 was probably the main reason for the spiritual dimension of her life to develop, whereas her love of mathematics stemmed from her father, Captain Victor af Klint, a Swedish captain.

In 1892, aged thirty, she began painting pictures of her mystical ideas and messages, by order of a higher power that she called Ananda. These were particularly extraordinary due to a high level of abstraction in combination with painterly creative freedom and regulative details – a combination that is as surprising as it is unique.

The format and size of the paintings are something you simply have to see for yourself. The museum’s PR selection doesn’t do Hilma’s explosive force justice. Hilma created the altarpieces in 1915 and developed the religious image cycle following the death of her mother, who she cared for in the last years of her life.

The swan series, which she produced between 1914 and 1915 seems much more impactful and stronger. Colours, lines, shadows … it is fresh and timeless and unlike anything else. By the way, this series was not exhibited during her lifetime.

Towards the end of her life she became increasingly interested in the figurative – not one of her greatest strengths in our opinion. The reason for this was Austrian mystic and philosopher Rudolf Steiner, founder of Anthroposophy, whom she continually visited in Dornach, Switzerland over the course of a decade.

He didn’t rate her self-made painterly mysticism and therefore ‘converted’ her to produce work that was more suited to his taste. We think that this didn’t particularly add anything to her work from a modern perspective.

She painted until 1941 and created a body of work that consists of around 1,000 pieces. She was very suspicious and sceptical of the art market and thus stipulated that her work must not be shown until 20 years after her death.

The fact that it took 60 years rather than 20 – Camden Arts Center showed her work in 2006 alongside German artist Isa Genzken – would not have surprised her. Though she probably wouldn’t have expected the high number of Swedes flocking to her exhibition in 2013 to celebrate their newly discovered home grown art sensation.

All work belongs to the Hilma af Klint foundation, which her nephew founded after her death with the clear goal ‘to put the collection at the disposal of those who seek spiritual knowledge or those who can contribute to fulfilling the mission ordained by Hilma’s leaders’ as well as ‘to guard the collection in order to ensure that it falls only into the hands of those with an incorruptible attitude and to ensure that profanation is prevented’.

Spiritual knowledge, not profane, fulfilling the mission… maybe it was a little bit too early to make her work accessible to the public after all?

After Stockholm the exhibition will travel to Berlin, Hamburg and then on to Museo Picasso in Malaga. Additionally there is also an opulent photo book available, published by Hatje Cantz.


Moderna Museet
Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction is produced by Moderna Museet:
Curator: Iris Müller-Westerman
Assistant Curator: Jo Widoff
Curator Learning: Ylva Hillström
Scenography: chezweitz&partner, Berlin. Detlef Weitz with Hans Hagermeister and Harald Niessner.


The exhibition tour is organised in collaboration with:

Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, 15 June-6 October 2013

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


Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction
Publisher: Iris Müller-Westermann, Jo Widoff, texts by David Lomas, Iris Müller-Westermann, Pascal Rousseau, Helmut Zander, design by Patric Leo
2013. 296 pages, 272 pictures.
21,90 x 28,10 cm, English
Hatje Cantz
ISBN 978-3-7757-3489-9

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

MODERNA MUSEET : Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction