Uncover: Hilma af Klint
Five foot two Swedish born Vilma was born into a Protestant, bourgeois naval family with no interest in art. She grew up in Karlberg castle, a naval academy. This petite and quiet spirit artist grew into being a prolific abstract artist that created works way beyond her time. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm and became an accomplished landscape and portrait artist in her early years. This marketable form of art became her livelihood; however there were other sources from which quite different paintings were inspired. It was sometime after the death of her sister in 1880, that Hilma af Klint became interested in spiritualism. For 10 years, she trained. She felt ready to trust in something she could not explain. She was about something bigger than ego. She had to ask: do I dare do this?”
Hilma af Klint and four other women formed the group “De Fem” meaning 'The Five.' This group of women held séances where they would contact with “high masters” from another dimension. Her artworks were It is as if Af Klint has appeared out of nowhere–inconveniently for art historians. And the question she raises will not recede: was she a quirky outsider, or was she Europe’s first abstract painter, central to the history of abstract art? When she died, aged 81, in 1944, she stipulated in her will that her work–1,200 paintings, 100 texts and 26,000 pages of notes–should not be shown until 20 years after her death. It was not until the 1986 Los Angeles show The Spiritual in Art that her work was seen in public, and although other shows have followed, it is through Stockholm’s sensational 2013 exhibition. Her family now want her legacy to live on and give her artworks the credit that they deserve.
Written by Erin Remington