Posts Tagged ‘Hilma af Klint The WU/Rose Series

20
Apr
19

Exhibition: ‘Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future’ at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Exhibition dates: 12th October 2018 – 23rd April 2019

Curators: Curated by Tracey Bashkoff, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, with the assistance of David Horowitz, Curatorial Assistant, and organised with the cooperation of the Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm.

 

The exhibition Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future has attracted more than 600,000 visitors since its opening, making it the most-visited show in the history of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The survey of Hilma af Klint’s work is the first major solo exhibition in the United States devoted to the Swedish artist.

“For me, the 2018-19 art season will always belong to the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (1862-1944). I say this simply as a measure of the psychic and historical shift caused by the Guggenheim Museum’s extraordinary full-dress retrospective of her nearly 40-year career.” ~ Roberta Smith, The New York Times

 

 

Installation viInstallation view of the exhibition 'Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future', Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018 - April 23, 2019

 

Installation view of the exhibition Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018 – April 23, 2019
Photo: David Heald

 

 

What can one say…

Magical, mystical, enchanted; chakra, mandala, golden ratio; music, spirit, energy.

Af Klint imagined displaying these works in a spiral temple, but the building never came to fruition. Now they are displayed in the spiral of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. I think she would have been very pleased.

She stipulated that her paintings not be shown for 20 years following her death, convinced the world was not ready for them. She was probably correct in that assumption. But now, now we are ravished by her creativity and prescience.

If she only knew how much she is now loved and adored. An enigmatic star that burns so very bright in the cosmos.

For Joyce Evans

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

 

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece' (Grupp X, nr 1, Altarbild) 1915 (detail)

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece (Grupp X, nr 1, Altarbild) (detail)
1915
From Altarpieces (Altarbilder)
Oil and metal leaf on canvas
237.5 x 179.5 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece' (Grupp X, nr 1, Altarbild) 1915

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece (Grupp X, nr 1, Altarbild)
1915
From Altarpieces (Altarbilder)
Oil and metal leaf on canvas
237.5 x 179.5 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future', Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018 - April 23, 2019

Installation view of the exhibition 'Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future', Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018 - April 23, 2019

Installation view of the exhibition 'Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future', Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018 - April 23, 2019

Installation view of the exhibition 'Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future', Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018 - April 23, 2019

 

Installation views of the exhibition Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018 – April 23, 2019
Photos: David Heald

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'The Ten Largest, No. 7., Adulthood, Group IV' [The age of men] 1907

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
The Ten Largest, No. 7., Adulthood, Group IV [The age of men]
1907
Tempera on paper mounted on canvas
315 x 235 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

 

 

From October 12, 2018, to April 23, 2019, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents the first major solo exhibition in the United States of the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944). When af Klint began creating radically abstract paintings in 1906, they were like little that had been seen before: bold, colourful, and untethered from recognisable references to the physical world. It was several years before Vasily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, and others would take similar strides to free their own artwork of representational content. Yet af Klint rarely exhibited her remarkably forward-looking paintings and, convinced the world was not ready for them, stipulated that they not be shown for 20 years following her death. Ultimately, her work was not exhibited until 1986, and it is only over the past three decades that her paintings and works on paper have received serious attention.

Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future offers an opportunity to experience af Klint’s artistic achievements in the Guggenheim’s rotunda more than a century after she began her daring work. Curated by Tracey Bashkoff, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, with the assistance of David Horowitz, Curatorial Assistant, and organised with the cooperation of the Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm, the exhibition features more than 170 of af Klint’s artworks and focus on the artist’s breakthrough years, 1906-20. It is during this period that she began to produce nonobjective and stunningly imaginative paintings, creating a singular body of work that invites a reevaluation of modernism and its development.

Hilma af Klint was born in Stockholm in 1862 and went on to study painting at the city’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, graduating with honours in 1887. She soon established herself as a respected painter in Stockholm, exhibiting deftly rendered figurative paintings and serving briefly as secretary of the Society for Swedish Women Artists. During these years, she also became deeply engaged with spiritualism, Rosicrucianism, and Theosophy. These forms of spirituality, which were also of keen interest to other artists, including Kandinsky, František Kupka, Malevich, and Mondrian, were widely popular across Europe and the United States, as people sought to reconcile long-held religious beliefs with scientific advances and a new awareness of the global plurality of religions.

Af Klint developed her new approach to art making together with her spiritual practice, outside of Stockholm’s male-dominated art world. She had begun to regularly hold séances with four other women by 1896. During a meeting in 1906, one of the spirits that the group often channeled asked af Klint to create a cycle of paintings. Af Klint immediately accepted. She worked on the project between 1906 and 1915, completing 193 paintings and works on paper collectively called The Paintings for the Temple. These works, which included her first forays into non-objectivity, were a radical break from the more staid paintings she produced as part of her public practice. Stylistically, they are strikingly diverse, utilising biomorphic and geometric forms, expansive and intimate scales, and maximalist and reductivist approaches to composition and colour. She imagined installing them in a spiral temple, but the building never came to fruition. Af Klint described the final group of The Paintings for the Temple, called the Altarpieces, as “the summary of the series so far.” Recent research suggests this group of paintings was exhibited in 1928 at the World Conference of Spiritual Science and Its Practical Applications in London – the only known public display of The Paintings for the Temple during the artist’s lifetime. After she completed The Paintings for the Temple, af Klint continued to test the limits of her new abstract vocabulary. In these years, she experimented with form, theme, and seriality, creating some of her most incisive works.

 

Exhibition catalogue

Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue representing her groundbreaking painting series while expanding recent scholarship to present the fullest picture yet of her life and art. Edited by Tracey Bashkoff, the volume includes contributions by Tessel M. Bauduin, Daniel Birnbaum, Briony Fer, Vivien Greene, Ylva Hillström, David Max Horowitz, Andrea Kollnitz, Helen Molesworth, and Julia Voss. Essays explore the social, intellectual, and artistic context of af Klint’s 1906 break with figuration and her subsequent development, placing her in the context of Swedish modernism and folk art traditions, contemporary scientific discoveries, and spiritualist and occult movements. A roundtable discussion among contemporary artists, scholars, and curators considers af Klint’s sources and relevance to art in the 21st century. The volume also delves into her unrealised plans for a spiral-shaped temple in which to display her art – a wish that finds a fortuitous answer in the Guggenheim Museum’s rotunda, the site of the exhibition.

Press release from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Cited 11/03/2019

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Untitled' 1920

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Untitled
1920
From On the Viewing of Flowers and Trees (Vid betraktande av blommor och träd)
Watercolor on paper
17.9 x 25 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'No. 1' (Nr 1) 1917 (detail)

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
No. 1 (Nr 1) (detail)
1917
From The Atom Series (Serie Atom)
Watercolor on paper
27 x 25 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'No. 1' (Nr 1) 1917

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
No. 1 (Nr 1)
1917
From The Atom Series (Serie Atom)
Watercolor on paper
27 x 25 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Group IX/SUW, The Swan, No. 17' (Grupp IX/SUW, Svanen, nr 17) 1915

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Group IX/SUW, The Swan, No. 17 (Grupp IX/SUW, Svanen, nr 17)
1915
From The SUW/UW Series (Serie SUW/UW)
Oil on canvas
150.5 x 151 cm
©  The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Group IX/SUW, The Swan, No. 17' (Grupp IX/SUW, Svanen, nr 17) 1915 (detail)

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Group IX/SUW, The Swan, No. 17 (Grupp IX/SUW, Svanen, nr 17) (detail)
1915
From The SUW/UW Series (Serie SUW/UW)
Oil on canvas
150.5 x 151 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'No. 2a, The Current Standpoint of the Mahatmas' (Nr 2a, Mahatmernas nuvarande ståndpunkt)1920

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
No. 2a, The Current Standpoint of the Mahatmas (Nr 2a, Mahatmernas nuvarande ståndpunkt)
1920
From Series II (Serie II)
Oil on canvas, 36.5 x 27 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Group I, Primordial Chaos, No. 16' (Grupp 1, Urkaos, nr 16) 1906-1907

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Group I, Primordial Chaos, No. 16 (Grupp 1, Urkaos, nr 16)
1906-1907
From The WU/Rose Series (Serie WU/Rosen)
Oil on canvas
53 x 37 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Group V, The Seven-Pointed Star, No. 1n' (Grupp V, Sjustjärnan, nr 1) 1908

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Group V, The Seven-Pointed Star, No. 1n (Grupp V, Sjustjärnan, nr 1)
1908
From The WUS/Seven-Pointed Star Series (Serie WUS/Sjustjärnan)
Tempera, gouache and graphite on paper mounted on canvas
62.5 x 76 cm
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Tree of Knowledge, No. 5' (Kunskapens träd, nr 5) 1915 (detail)

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Tree of Knowledge, No. 5 (Kunskapens träd, nr 5) (detail)
1915
From The W Series (Serie W)
Watercolor, gouache, graphite and metallic paint on paper
18 1/16 x 11 5/8 inches (45.8 x 29.5 cm)
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Tree of Knowledge, No. 5' (Kunskapens träd, nr 5) 1915

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Tree of Knowledge, No. 5 (Kunskapens träd, nr 5)
1915
From The W Series (Serie W)
Watercolor, gouache, graphite and metallic paint on paper
18 1/16 x 11 5/8 inches (45.8 x 29.5 cm)
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944) 'Tree of Knowledge, No. 5' (Kunskapens träd, nr 5) 1915 (detail)

 

Hilma af Klint (Swedish, 1862-1944)
Tree of Knowledge, No. 5 (Kunskapens träd, nr 5) (detail)
1915
From The W Series (Serie W)
Watercolor, gouache, graphite and metallic paint on paper
18 1/16 x 11 5/8 inches (45.8 x 29.5 cm)
© The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm
Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

 

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22
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Hilma af Klint – A Pioneer of Abstraction’ at Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Exhibition dates:  16 February – 26 May 2013

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I don’t often say this about an artist but OMG, I am in love!

Five years before Wassily Kandinsky (he of the book Concerning the Spiritual In Art 1910), before Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, the images of Carl Jung (The Red Book) and Rudolf Steiner (Blackboard Drawings 1919-1924) – who dismissed her ideas as wrong – was this revolutionary artist and abstractionist, Hilma af Klint, possibly the first purely abstract painter to produced non-objective works in the early 1900’s. While her more conventional painting became the source of her financial income her ‘life’s work’ remained a quite separate practice and hidden from view. She worked in isolation with little knowledge of the Avant-garde movement in Europe and requested that her complex and articulate paintings not be shown until 20 years after her death.

“Through her work with the group “the Five” af Klint created experimental automatic drawing as early as 1896, leading her towards an inventive geometric visual language capable of conceptualising invisible forces both of the inner and outer worlds. Quite apart from their diagrammatic purpose the paintings have a freshness and a modern aesthetic of tentative line and hastily captured image: a segmented circle, a helix bisected and divided into a spectrum of lightly painted colours. She continued prolifically to add to the body of work amounting to over 1000 pieces until 1941. She requested that it should not be shown until 20 years after the end of her life. In 1970 her paintings were offered as a gift to Moderna Museet in Stockholm, which declined the donation.” (Text from Wikipedia)

Ironic then is it not, that this first major exhibition of Hilma af Klint’s life’s work is at Moderna Museet in Stockholm. How times and attitudes change. And yes, I have ordered the catalogue…

Marcus

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“Negotiating around the masculine domain of art making by working through automatism and spiritual séances, Hilma af Klint appears to allow herself more freedom and reverence by working directly through ‘High Masters’ in their masculine form; through instructed spiritualist experience. Influenced heavily by the infamous Madame Blavatsky, the co-founder of The Theosophical Society and writer of ‘The Secret Doctrine’, af Klint’s ‘High Masters’ guided her hand in an attempt to gain spiritual knowledge of the self and of the universe…

Her occult diaries containing symbols of crosses, mystical vowels, dead sea scrolls, astral and metaphysical planes, mystical initials, strange vowels cross over to the larger works, continuing to make the viewer work hard at understanding what message is being sent. It is then that you notice the rest of the space with painting after painting hung mainly in series, working their way with fluidity around the many walls contained within the exhibiting space. Cubicles of watercolours denoting The Tree of Life, Studies of world religions, paintings for the temple, they are all there. It is clear that af Klint was prolific in her secretive world but it is hard to imagine how she managed to keep all these vast works hidden from view.

It is clear that Klint has some understanding of scientific breakthroughs in her time however her occult physics, chemistry and mathematical understanding appears ahead of its time. Her provocative nature appears to ask questions of sexuality, suggests male and female equality and is probably through this enquiry, still seen as revolutionary. In light of this, af Klint experienced continuous dismissal of her working practices and ideas linked to the scientific and mathematical study of spiritual knowledge. Her friends describe her work as ‘inappropriate’ and her contemporary Rudolph Steiner, founder of The Anthroposophical Society dismissed her ideas as wrong when asked by personal invitation to view them, claiming that she couldn’t have contact with spirits in that way although he doesn’t appear to state clearly for what reason.”

Open College for the Arts tutor Hayley Lock on the We Are OCA website

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Many thankx to Moderna Museet for allowing me to publish the artwork in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Photographer unknown. 'Portrait of Hilma af Klint' Nd

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Photographer unknown
Portrait of Hilma af Klint
Nd

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Installation views of Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction, 2013

Installation views of Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction, 2013

Installation views of Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction, 2013

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Installation views of Hilma af Klint – A Pioneer of Abstraction, 2013
© Photo: Åsa Lundén/ Moderna Museet

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“In Spring 2013 Moderna Museet is dedicating a major exhibition to Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), featuring many works that have never before been shown in public. This retrospective exhibition of a Swedish pioneer of abstract art is Moderna Museet’s tribute to Hilma af Klint as one of the greatest Swedish artists. A woman artist whose work is still far too unknown to a wider public, Hilma af Klint eschewed representational painting as early as 1906. Between 1906 and 1915, she produced nearly 200 abstract paintings, some of which are in monumental formats.

Like Vassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, who have previously been regarded as the main protagonists of abstract art, Hilma af Klint was influenced by contemporary spiritual movements, such as spiritism, theosophy and, later, anthroposophy. Hilma af Klint’s oeuvre builds on the awareness of a spiritual dimension of consciousness, an aspect that was being marginalised in an increasingly materialistic world. When she painted, she believed that a higher consciousness was speaking through her. In her astonishing works she combines geometric shapes and symbols with ornamentation. Her multifaceted imagery strives to give insights into the different dimensions of existence, where microcosm and macrocosm reflect one another.

Hilma af Klint’s groundbreaking images were created in the early years of the 20th century – before the dawn of abstract art in Russia and Europe. Her works are not concerned with abstraction of colour and shapes for its own sake, but are an attempt to portray that which is not visible. Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian also explored a spiritual dimension. Kandinsky moved away from Expressionism and gradually left visible reality behind. He had a great interest in the occult and published On the Spiritual in Art in 1911. Malevich arrived via Cubism and Futurism at his suprematist, abstract and exceedingly spiritual images. Mondrian successively turned his back on figurative portrayals of that which the eye can see, reducing his compositions to a play of vertical and horizontal lines, and to the primary colours red, yellow and blue, with white and black. As a theosophist, he was striving for a purely spiritual expression of the eternal ideas beyond the visible world. Spiritual searching was thus an essential element to many of the modernists who moved towards an abstract imagery. Unlike Hilma af Klint, Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian did not claim to be acting as mediums in their creative process. This was an experience, however, that she had in common with artists such as the artists František Kupka (1871-1957), Emma Kunz (1892-1963) and the writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885).

Hilma af Klint left more than 1,000 paintings, watercolours and sketches. Although she exhibited her early, representational works, she refused to show her abstract paintings during her lifetime. In her will, she stipulated that these groundbreaking works must not be shown publicly until 20 years after her death. She was convinced that only then would the world be fully and completely ready to understand their significance.

Moderna Museet’s retrospective exhibition presents Hilma af Klint’s most important abstract works, as well as paintings and works on paper that have never before been presented publicly, enhancing our understanding of her oeuvre. Her extensive diaries and notebooks have been included in the research for this exhibition, which comprises some 200 paintings and works on paper and will tour internationally in 2013-2015.

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About the artist

Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) was a pioneer of art that turned away from visible reality. By 1906, she had developed an abstract imagery. This was several years before Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) and Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935), who are still regarded as the pioneers of abstract 20th-century art. Hilma af Klint assumed that there was a spiritual dimension to life and aimed at visualizing contexts beyond what the eye can see. When painting, she believed that she was in contact with a higher consciousness that spoke and conveyed messages through her. Like many of her contemporaries, she was influenced by spiritual movements, especially spiritualism, theosophy and later anthroposophy. Through her paintings, she sought to understand and communicate the various dimensions of human existence.

In her will, Hilma af Klint wrote that her abstract works must not be made accessible to the public until at least twenty years after her death. She was convinced that their full meaning could not be understood until then. One hundred years ago, Hilma af Klint painted pictures for the future.

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A Woman Artist at the Turn of the Century 

Hilma af Klint began her art studies at Tekniska Skolan in Stockholm and also had lessons in portrait painting. Between 1882 and 1887, she was a student at the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts. After graduating and until 1908, she had a studio at Kungsträdgården in central Stockholm. She painted and exhibited portraits and landscapes in a naturalist style. In the late 1870s, Hilma af Klint attended séances, where a medium contacted the dead. There was a great fascination for invisible phenomena at the time. This can be seen in relation to scientific discoveries, such as x-rays that could reveal internal human organs, and electromagnetic waves that led to the development of radio and telephony.

In 1896, Hilma af Klint and four other women formed the group “De Fem” [The Five]. They made contact with “high masters” from another dimension, and made meticulous notes on their séances. This led to a definite change in Hilma af Klint’s art. She began practising automatic writing, which involves writing without consciously guiding the movement of the pen on the paper. She developed a form of automatic drawing, predating the surrealists by decades. Gradually, she eschewed her naturalist imagery, in an effort to free herself from her academic training. She embarked on an inward journey, into a world that is hidden from most people.

Press release from the Moderna Museet website

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Hilma-af-Klint-arbete

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Hilma af Klint
From A Work on Flowers, Mosses and Lichen, July 2 1919
1919
© Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk/Photo: Moderna Museet, Albin Dahlström

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Hilma af Klint. 'Evolution, No. 7, Group VI, The WUS/Seven-Pointed Star Series' 1908

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Hilma af Klint
Evolution, No. 7, Group VI, The WUS/Seven-Pointed Star Series
1908
© Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk, foto Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

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Hilma af Klint. 'Untitled' Nd

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Hilma af Klint
Untitled
Nd

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Hilma af Klint. 'The Swan, No. 17, Group IX/SUW, The SUW/UW Series' 1915

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Hilma af Klint
The Swan, No. 17, Group IX/SUW, The SUW/UW Series
1915
© Courtesy Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk. Foto: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

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Hilma af Klint. 'The Swan, No. 1, Group IX/SUW, The SUW/UW Series' 1915

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Hilma af Klint
The Swan, No. 1, Group IX/SUW, The SUW/UW Series
1915
© Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk/Photo: Moderna Museet, Albin Dahlström

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Hilma af Klint. 'The Swan' 1914

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Hilma af Klint
The Swan
1914

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Symbols

Hilma af Klint’s imagery is full of symbols, letters and words. Symbols are like doors into another dimension. For Hilma af Klint, her entire work was about conveying the messages she received, and to shed light on the great existential issues.

It would be pointless to translate the symbols and letters in Hilma af Klint’s works into definite, unambiguous terms. They must always be seen in relation to the entire context. In her notebook Symboler, Bokstäver och Ord tillhörande Hilma af Klints målningar [Notes on Letters and Words pertaining to Works by Hilma af Klint] she attempts to clarify the complex meanings of the various signs. Here are a few general explanations:

The snail or spiral represents development or evolution. The eyelet and the hook,blue and yellow, and the lily and the rose represent femininity and masculinity respectively. W stands for matter, while U stands for spirit. The almond shape arising when two circles overlap is called the vesica piscis and is an ancient symbol for the development towards unity and completion. The swan represents the ethereal in many mythologies and religions and stands for completion in the alchemical tradition. In Christianity, the dove represents the holy spirit and love.

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Terminology

Esoteric and occult denote “the science of the hidden dimensions”. Western esotericism is a mixture of Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, Jewish kabbalah and the three occult “sciences” of astrology, magic and alchemy.

Spiritualism shares the conviction that it is possible to make contact with the spirits of the deceased. Modern spiritism was spread thanks to the Fox sisters in the USA in 1848.

Theosophy is a general doctrine incorporating inspiration from various religions and spiritism. The religions are regarded as different expressions of one fundamental truth. Theosophy teaches that the origin of everything, divinity, is inherent in every being. The Theosophical Society was founded in New York in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky and others. There is also an older form of theosophy that is significantly different to the newer version.

Anthroposophy is a life philosophy that originated in theosophy. Rudolf Steiner, who was the leader of the German branch of the Theosophical Society, left theosophy in 1913 to set up the anthroposophical movement. The two philosophies have a great deal in common, but anthroposophy in general has a stronger Christian element.

According to legend, the Rosicrucians were an esoteric society in Germany who engaged in alchemy in the early 17th century. Today, there are many secret orders that claim to uphold the Rosicrucian traditions.

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Hilma af Klint. 'Tree of Knowledge' 1913

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Hilma af Klint
Tree of Knowledge
1913

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Hilma af Klint. 'Primordial Chaos, No. 16, Group I, The WU/Rose Series' 1906-1907

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Hilma af Klint
Primordial Chaos, No. 16, Group I, The WU/Rose Series
1906-1907
© Courtesy Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk. Foto: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

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Hilma af klint. 'The Large Figure Paintings, No. 5, Group III, The Key to All Works to Date, The WU/Rose Series' 1907

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Hilma af klint
The Large Figure Paintings, No. 5, Group III, The Key to All Works to Date, The WU/Rose Series
1907
© Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk/Photo: Moderna Museet, Albin Dahlström

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

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Hilma af Klint
The Ten Largest, No. 3, Youth, Group IV
1907
© Courtesy Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk. Foto: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

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Hilma af Klint. 'The Ten Largest, No. 1' 1907

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Hilma af Klint
The Ten Largest, No. 1
1907

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Hilma af Klint. 'The Dove, No. 3, Group IX/ UW, The SUW/UW Series' 1915

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Hilma af Klint
The Dove, No. 3, Group IX/ UW, The SUW/UW Series
1915
© Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk/Photo: Moderna Museet, Albin Dahlström

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Hilma af Klint. 'Altarpiece, No. 1, Group X, Altarpiece Series' 1915

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Hilma af Klint
Altarpiece, No. 1, Group X, Altarpiece Series
1915
© Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk, foto Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

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Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Moderna Museet is ten minutes away from Kungsträdgården, and twenty minutes from T-Centralen or Gamla Stan. Walk past Grand Hotel and Nationalmuseum on Blasieholmen, opposite the Royal Palace. After crossing the bridge to Skeppsholmen, continue up the hill. The entrance to Moderna Museet and Arkitekturmuseet is on the left-hand side.

Opening hours:
Tuesday 10-20
Wednesday-Sunday 10-18
Monday closed

Moderna Museet website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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