Hilma af Klint's daring abstractions exert a mystical magnetism
When Swedish artist Hilma af Klint died in 1944 at the age of 81, she left behind more than 1,000 paintings and works on paper that she had kept largely private during her lifetime. Believing the world was not yet ready for her art, she stipulated that it should remain unseen for another 20 years. But only in recent decades has the public had a chance to reckon with af Klint's radically abstract painting practice―one which predates the work of Vasily Kandinsky and other artists widely considered trailblazers of modernist abstraction. Her boldly colorful works, many of them large-scale, reflect an ambitious, spiritually informed attempt to chart an invisible, totalizing world order through a synthesis of natural and geometric forms, textual elements and esoteric symbolism.
Accompanying the first major survey exhibition of the artist's work in the United States, Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future represents her groundbreaking painting series while expanding recent scholarship to present the fullest picture yet of her life and art. Essays explore the social, intellectual and artistic context of af Klint's 1906 break with figuration and her subsequent development, placing her in the context of Swedish modernism and folk art traditions, contemporary scientific discoveries, and spiritualist and occult movements. A roundtable discussion among contemporary artists, scholars and curators considers af Klint's sources and relevance to art in the 21st century. The volume also delves into her unrealized plans for a spiral-shaped temple in which to display her art―a wish that finds a fortuitous answer in the Guggenheim Museum's rotunda, the site of the exhibition.
Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) is now regarded as a pioneer of abstract art. Though her paintings were not seen publicly until 1987, her work from the early 20th century predates the first purely abstract paintings by Kandinsky, Mondrian and Malevich.
About the Author
Tracey Bashkoffis Director of Collections and Senior Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Bashkoff joined the Guggenheim in 1993 and has contributed to over 15 special exhibitions covering a range of 20th-century subjects. She completed her graduate studies at Northwestern University where she received a Mellon Fellowship in Art Objects. In 2014, she was a fellow for the Center for Curatorial Leadership.
Tessel M. Bauduinis a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in the Department of Cultural Studies of the Faculty of Arts at Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Her postdoctorate project funded by The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, brings together medieval art and the modern avant-garde, focusing on the reception of and the construction of medieval art in modernity, specifically in Surrealism.
Daniel Birnbaumis the Director of the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. He has a doctorate in philosophy from Stockholm University. He was the Co-Curator of the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 and the Director of the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. Birnbaum has held the position of Rector at the Städelschule Fine Arts Academy at Frankfurt at Maim in Germany and has also actively written for Art Forum.
Briony Feris Professor of Art History at University College London. Her books includeGabriel Orozco: Thinking in Circles,Eva Hesse Studiowork, The Infinite Line: Re-making Art after Modernism, andOn Abstract Art. She has written extensively on 20th- century and contemporary art. Fer has also curated numerous exhibitions, such as the recent show of Gabriel Orozco at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh in 2013.
Vivien Greenehas been a Guggenheim curator since 1993 and specializes in late 19th and early 20th century European art with concentrations in Italian modernism and international currents in turn-of-the-century art and culture. She most recently organized the exhibitionsItalian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe(2014) andThe Avant-Gardes of Fin-de-Siècle Paris: Signac, Bonnard, Redon, and Their Contemporaries(2013). She has a Ph.D. in art history, with a focus on 19th-century European art.
David Max Horowitzis Curatorial Assistant at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Andrea Kollnitzis Assistant Professor at the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. She wrote her doctoral thesis on German and Austrian Modernism in Swedish Art Criticism.
Publisher:Guggenheim Museum Publications (October 23, 2018)