HILMA af KLINT (1862-1944)
The Large Figure Paintings, No. 5, 1907
“Over a century ago, Swedish artist Hilma af Klint received a commission from a spirit to translate a “secret growing” of spiritual truths about humanity through her art. Regarded as a “crazy witch,” she perhaps wisely willed these works to be kept secret until 20 years after her death.” (from MoMA).
“During a seance, af Klint heard a voice telling her to paint ‘on an astral plane’ so as to ‘proclaim a new philosophy of Life.’ ‘I had no idea,’ she said, ‘what the paintings were supposed to depict: nevertheless I worked swiftly and surely without changing a single brushstroke.’ Part of a group titled The Large Figure Paintings, this work exemplifies af Klint’s use of cosmic and biomorphic forms in pursuit of her spiritual visions.” (MoMA)
Guided, she believed, by a “higher power, she began to paint abstractions in 1906, very early in modern art hstory. https://www.moma.org/calendar/galleries/5102
“A considerable body of her work predates the first purely abstract compositions by Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian. She belonged to a group called “The Five”, comprising a circle of women inspired by Theosophy, who shared a belief in the importance of trying to contact the so-called “High Masters“—often by way of séances. Her paintings, which sometimes resemble diagrams, were a visual representation of complex spiritual ideas. ” (Wikipedia)
Hilma af Klint, Group 2, No title, No. 14a–No. 21, 1919 © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet