Artist Hilma af Klint

The First Abstract Artist

Goda Smilingyte


You might be surprised that it’s not Kandinsky and it’s not Malevich.

In fact it is a female artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), who started creating abstract art a few years earlier than her well known male colleagues. Here are a few interesting facts about her.

Art by Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint is a professional Swedish artist. She started painting abstractions in 1906, at the age of 44. It was a series of large abstract paintings, 193 artworks in total, titled The Paintings for the Temple.

As many abstract artists, she started from realistic art but abstract art was a discovery for her — a new form of visual expression and a new artistic language.

Svanen (The Swan), №17, Group 9, Series SUW, this painting was never exhibited while artist lived

Spirituality was the driving force of inspiration and continued to be for the rest of her life. Klint believed that the her painting was dictated by spirits.

She was a medium influenced by anthroposophy. This is how she described her creative process in one of her notebooks.

I registered their magnitude within me. Above the easel I saw the Jupiter symbol which [shone] brightly and persisted for several seconds, brightly. I started the work immediately proceeding in such a way that the pictures were painted directly through me with great power.

She shared an interest in spiritual world with other artists, who wished to surpass the restrictions of physical world — the pioneers of abstraction: Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and František Kupka.

No Title, On the Viewing of Flowers and Trees, 1922, watercolour and graphite on paper © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk

Hilma af Klint died in 1944 leaving 1.300 artworks which have not been seen by many people at the time.

The artist believed that the current audience would not understand her work and so her artworks belonged to the future — only then would they be understood.

She did not want her artworks to be exhibited 20 years after her death.

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Goda Smilingyte

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