Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) is a Swedish painter, whom I discovered for myself last year thanks to the publications in the Guardian’s Art & Design section.
Daughter of a sea captain, she grew up on an island located in the Mälaren lake, the third largest freshwater lake in Sweden. She spent an idyllic childhood in the hugs of the Nature, communicating with the sun, water and flowers. From small, she had a great interest in mathematics and botany. She painted very well. After the family moved to Stockholm, she enrolled to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Hilma studied graphics, portrait and landscape painting; and graduated with distinction.
The beginning of her path in art seems to be quite classic – Hilma drew predominantly botanical sketches, portraits and landscapes and earned quite well.
Until … Sometimes a new star flashes in our lives, some strange signal appears, and our life goes in another direction. So was with Hilma.
From a very young age, she began to be interested in spiritual teachings and spiritualism, which was noticeably increased after the death of her younger sister, Hermina. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the theosophy teaching of Elena Blavatskaya became widely spread. It is a doctrine that promotes the unity of all science branches – both traditional and spiritual. Its followers believe that there are higher beings called Adepts (teachers) who send messages to elected humans and thus raise the spiritual level of mankind.
Hilma was attracted to the theosophy of Madame Blavatskaya and other spiritual teachings, and her creative quests gradually changed.
Since the late 19th century, she has been experimenting with new styles of painting – for example, automatic drawing. With this style, the painter makes drawings without a preliminary plan and vision, reflecting only the painter’s intuitive momentary moods, sensations and emotions. It’s like communicating with the subconscious. Quite avant-garde for that time.
Twenty years after the start of her professional career, in 1906, Hilma created her first abstract paintings – she was 44 years old. They are strange, unusual and incomprehensible. She painted her first abstract works before Vasily Kandinsky, considered to be the forerunner of abstractionism, and before the artists of his circle.
Hilma consulted herself with people, whom she had trusted, what to do with her abstract paintings. Their opinion was that her abstract works would not be understood by her contemporaries. She followed the advise and never showed them at exhibitions. She documented her works and artistic searches with notes. As if talking to the future …
She died at the age of 82, in 1944, after a road accident.
It is with his abstract paintings that Hilma af Klint remains in the history of fine arts. For many years, her work has been known mainly to the followers of occultism and in the theosophical circles.
Only in the last few years the world rediscovered Hllma af Klint. Her paintings were exhibited at the George Popmidu Center for Modern Art, in Paris (2008), at the Venice Biennial (2013), in the New Museum of Modern Art in New York (2016), Brazil, and of course in Sweden. In the spring of 2019, the largest solo exhibition of Hilma af Klint was held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
You may look at her paintings in Wikiart. I would not comment them, living you evaluate their qualities alone.