Hilma af Klint



Hilma af Klint is now regarded as a pioneer of abstract art. While her paintings were not seen publicly until 1987, her work from the early 20th century pre-dates the first purely abstract paintings by Kandinsky, Mondrian or Malevich. Af Klint sought to express her feelings transmitted to her form nature and the unseen spiritual world.

After graduating from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm in 1887, af Klint took a studio in the city where she produced and exhibited traditional landscapes, botanical drawings and portraits. However, by 1886 she had abandoned the conventions she learned at the Academy in favour of painting the invisible worlds hidden within nature, the spiritual realm and the occult.

She privately joined four other female artists to form a group called ‘The Five’. They conducted séances to encounter what they believed to be spirits who wished to communicate via pictures, leading to experiments with automatic writing and drawing, which pre-dated the Surrealists by several decades.

This catalogue focuses primarily on af Klint’s body of work, The Paintings for the Temple (1906-1915), and numerous works from the key series never published before. Consisting of 193 predominately abstract paintings in various series and subgroups, she painted a path towards a harmony between the spiritual and material worlds; good and evil; man and woman; religion and science.

Texts by Daniel Birnbaum, Jennifer Higgie, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Julia Peyton-Jones, Julia Voss

Published on the occasion of the exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, London, 3 March – 22 May 2016.

Hilma af Klint - Painting the Unseen
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