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Hilma Af Klint

Hilma af Klint was a Swedish artist and mystic whose paintings were the first Western abstract art known to the current art community. Some even said she invented abstract art. She died in 1944 at the age of 81 leaving behind more than 1,000 paintings which she kept hidden during her lifetime.

A considerable body of her abstract work predates the first purely abstract compositions by Kandinsky. She belonged to a group called "The Five", a circle of women inspired by Theosophy who shared a belief in the importance of trying to contact the so-called "High Masters"—often by way of séances. Her paintings, which sometimes resemble diagrams, were a visual representation of complex spiritual ideas.

But only in recent decades has the public had a chance to reckon with af Klint’s radically abstract painting practise—one which predates the work of Vasily Kandinsky and other artists widely considered trailblazers of modernist abstraction. Her boldly colourful 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.

Through her life, Hilma af Klint would seek to understand the mysteries that she had come in contact with through her work. She produced more than 150 notebooks with her thoughts and studies.

Hilma af Klint never dared to show her abstract work to her contemporaries. Her major works, dedicated to the Temple, had been questioned and rejected by Rudolf Steiner. Hilma af Klint 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.

Hilma af Klint died in the aftermath of a traffic accident, having only exhibited her works a handful of times, mainly at spiritual conferences and gatherings. Her spirit lives on in these images.

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