Artist: Hilma af Klint

Wassily Kandinsky is often regarded as the founder of abstract art. Nevertheless, Hilma af Klint had already began creating abstract paintings before Kandinsky. It is very important to emphasize the role that spirituality played in the creations of both artists.

Hilma af Klint, Altarpiece, No. 1, 1915 © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

Hilma af Klint’s life’s spiritual dimension began to flourish after she lost her younger sister. Her fascination for abstraction and symbolism has its roots in spiritism, which was widespread enough during the first part of the 20th century. Hilma af Klint had interest in the theosophy of Madame Blavatsky and was part of “The Five”, a group of artists sharing her opinions. Af Klint’s work can be understood in the context of modernist research of new forms in artistic, spiritual, scientific fields of her time. The same interest can also be traced in other artists’s trajectory: Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Kasimir Malevitch and others were inspired by Theosophical Society. Also, Klint’s creative production happened without any contacts with her contemporary artistic movements. Her artworks are highly spiritual.

In her studio

In a letter to his New York gallerist Jerome Neumann in 1935, Wassily Kandinsky wrote that he had created his first abstract picture in 1911: “Indeed, it’s the world’s first ever abstract picture, because back then not one single painter was painting in an abstract style”. Wassily Kandinsky didn’t know that an artist from Sweden had already created other abstract paintings started from 1906. The artist’s name is Hilma af Klint.

Hilma af Klint, The Evolution, No. 7, 1908 © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet
Hilma af Klint, The Evolution, No. 10, 1908 © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet
Hilma af Klint, The Dove, No. 1, 1905 © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

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