The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brushstroke. (Hilma af Klint)
The work of abstract artist and spiritist Hilma af Klint was discovered 1985, around 40 years after her death, and became world famous from the Los Angeles Spiritual in Art exhibition in 1986. Hilma af Klint was a medium, mystic, guided by spirits as she painted. She left an occult diary with several hundred of books between 1890 – 1940.
Exhibit Moderna Muséet, Stockholm
Moderna Museet in Stockholm is showing the greatest Hilma af Klint exhibition ever this spring. Go see!
Watch: Film from Moderna Muséet.
When Spirits Are Guiding Your Hand
For those of you with the interest and an hour of time, I recommend listening/watching this very insightful and interesting lecture on YouTube:
Gertrud Sandqvist -” When Spirits are guiding Your Hand”
Evening Lecture at the 23 Augut 2010 @ Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts 2010; ©2010 Laura Kokoshka, Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts, Gertrud Sandqvist;
Art and the unconscious as specific categories were formed at the same time, in late the 18th century. They have haunted each other since then.
Something in art seems to be wide open, even conditioned by the unconscious, no matter how often artists and art critics try to keep art in place as perfectly intelligible.
And the unconscious seems to be best understood throught art – even Sigmund Freud admitted that.
Between 1906 and 1922, the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint made over one thousand secret paintings.
According to her, spirits were guiding her hand in a very literal way. Ever since her secret work was shown in 1985, she has been considered as a test case to the sources behind early abstract art. But it is even more interesting to take her at her own word, and enter the unconscious world she is showing us.
Did a Mystic Swede Invent Abstract Painting?
Some say yes! Some say no….
“Art history has to be rewritten,” says art historian Julia Voss in the light of af Klint’s show, which includes almost 200 works, including pre-1910 abstract paintings. For Ms. Voss, af Klint’s early works undermine the claims that Kandinsky, Francis Picabia, Kazimir Malevich and others were the pioneers.
Not so, says Ms. Dickerman, the curator of the MoMA exhibition. Af Klint “painted in isolation and did not exhibit her works, nor did she participate in public discussions of that time.” In the exhibition Ms. Dickerman tries to show that there wasn’t just one pioneering abstract work, but several evolved around the same time and were first shown at the end of 1911.
Ms. Dickerman defends her decision to exclude af Klint: “I find what she did absolutely fascinating, but am not even sure she saw her paintings as art works.”
What’s your story?
You could perhaps argue that the images of Hilma af Klint was meant as some sort of schematic illustrations. But who should be the judge?
An art critic?
You could also argue that some art of the East (I am thinking of the great islam art) is all about abstraction, and has been for hundreds if not thousands of years…
So who was first?
It’s all about story.