Hilma af Klint: Abstract Pioneer

Hilma af Klint was a classically trained painter born in Sweden in 1862. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts, af Klint began working in Stockholm, gaining recognition for her landscapes, botanical drawings, and portraits. Her conventional painting became the source of financial income but her ‘life’s work’ remained a quite separate practice.

Hilma Af Klint’s interest in spirituality led to her exploration of abstraction and symbolism in her works, the first of which she painted in 1906. Her paintings, which sometimes resemble diagrams, are visual representations of complex spiritual ideas. Her enchanting abstract works predate those of celebrated abstract pioneer Kandinsky, making her one of the first ever artists to use pure abstraction.

Hilma af Klint never dared to show her abstract work to her contemporaries. She drew the conclusion that her time was not yet ready to understand them. More than 1200 paintings and drawings were carefully stored away in her atelier, waiting for the future. In her will, Hilma af Klint left all her abstract paintings to her nephew, specifying that her work should be kept secret for at least 20 years after her death. Her abstract works were eventually presented to the public for the first time in 1984.

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