Swedish abstract painter Hilma af Klint
Swedish abstract painter Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) created her art five years before Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, before the images of Carl Jung and Rudolf Steiner. Hilma af Klint was the first purely abstract painter to produce non-objective works in the early 1900s. She belonged to a group called “The Five” (a circle of women who shared their belief in the importance of trying to make contact with the so-called ‘high masters’ – often by way of seances) and her paintings, which sometimes resembled diagrams, were a visual representation of complex spiritual ideas. Even in childhood Hilma af Klint exhibited ability of a spirit-medium. Between 1879 and 1882, she regularly took part in seances of a Christian-oriented occult groups. Later, she created her own spiritualistic “female circle”, and from 1896 to 1902 carefully took notes received “from the world”. Hilma af Klint and her soulmates came into contact with spirits of Gregor, Clement, Amaliel and Anand.
In 1904 Hilma receives a message from Ananda, in which the spirit required to create paintings now on the “astral plane”: they should depict something eternal and unchanging, that remains in humans after their death. A year later, the spirits told the artist a new message: “You have to announce a new understanding of life and become part of the new kingdom on earth” (as the artist wrote in her diary). Fascinated by the prospect of being chosen, Hilma changed her entire life schedule. Between November 1906 and April 1908, she created 111 paintings in series, on the instructions of her “spiritual leaders.” Her bright, spotted compositions are full of geometric, floral and ornamental motifs. Allocated separate human figures and letters.
Hilma af Klint was the 4th of five children, Victor af Klint, a naval officer, and Matilda Sontag. In 1872 her family moved to Stockholm. Hilma studied at Technical School (now the School of Applied Arts), and then took the lessons of portraiture and for 5 years, until 1887, continued her studies at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. Since the late 1889’s and until 1908, she worked in her own studio in Stockholm, on Hamngatan 5. During this period, her creativity was influenced by painting of expressionist Munch. She painted landscapes, portraits and genre paintings, organized her first exhibition.
Once in 1908, her mother, 10 years as a widow, became blind, Hilmi closes studio and moved to her. The same year, she met with the famous Swiss anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner, with whose work she was already familiar. Over time, anthroposophic theme increasingly penetrate into her painting, gradually displacing it from the influence of “otherworldly spirits.”
The artist continues to draw up to a ripe old age, but no longer exhibits her “occult” painting. According to her will, it was pointed out that the cultural heritage of Hilda af Klint, covering about 1,000 works, allowed to stand no earlier than 20 years after the death of the artist. Thus her first retrospective exhibition was held only in 1986/1987. Artistic legacy of Hilmi is now managed by a special fund of Hilma af Klint in Stockholm.