Hilma af Klint lecture

Hilma af Klint lecture

Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College

Hilma af Klint, Svanen (The Swan), from the series “Series SUW.”
October 1914–March 1915. Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches.
Photo: P.S. Burton, 2013.
August 22, 2014
Hilma af Klint lecture

Companion Editions lecture series: Dr. Iris Müller-Westermann lectures on
the work of pioneering Swedish abstract artist Hilma af Klint.

September 9, 2014, 7:30pm

Reed College Chapel 
Eliot Hall
Portland, Oregon


Dr. Müller-Westermann is the curator of the groundbreaking exhibition Hilma af Klint, Pioneer of Abstraction (2013)—the first-ever retrospective of Hilma af Klint’s visionary, spiritual paintings, drawings, and artist books. Dr. Müller-Westermann will present a comprehensive view of af Klint’s artistic development and working methods; her work as an artist and researcher; her life as a female artist at the turn of the century; the radicality and boldness of her abstract oeuvre; and the challenges and opportunities that af Klint’s work offers us today. This is Dr. Müller-Westermann’s only scheduled lecture on af Klint’s work in the United States.


Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) was a pioneer of art that turned away from visible reality. In 1896, Hilma af Klint and four other women formed the group “De Fem,” The Five. They made contact with “high masters” from another dimension, and made meticulous notes about their séances. This led to a shift in her work.

By 1906, af Klint developed an abstract imagery. This was several years before Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), and Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935), who are still regarded as the pioneers of 20th-century abstract art. Hilma af Klint assumed that there was a spiritual dimension to life and aimed at visualizing contexts beyond what the eye can see. When painting, she believed that she was in contact with a higher consciousness that conveyed messages through her. Like many of her contemporaries, she was influenced by spiritual movements, especially spiritualism, theosophy and later anthroposophy. Through her paintings, she sought to understand and communicate the various dimensions of human existence. In her will, Hilma af Klint stipulated that her abstract works must not be made accessible to the public until at least 20 years after her death. One hundred years ago, Hilma af Klint painted pictures for the future.


Dr. Iris Müller-Westermann is the Senior Curator of International Art at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, a post she has held since 1997. Dr. Müller-Westermann is an art historian, completing her doctoral thesis on the work of Edvard Munch. Her publications focus on 20th-century art and include studies on Munch as well as art of the 20th and 21st centuries in conjunction with exhibitions she has organized, among them After the Wall: Art and Culture in Post-Communist Europe (with David Elliott and Bojana Pejić, 1999); In the Power of Painting (2000); Rosemarie Trockel (2001); Munch by Himself (2005); Max Ernst: Dream and Revolution (2008); and Lee Lozano (2010). Her groundbreaking exhibition on the work of seminal abstractionist Hilma af Klint traveled to Germany, Spain, and Denmark, and will travel to Finland in 2015. Dr. Müller-Westermann is currently curating an exhibition of the work of Louise Bourgeois.

Companion Editions, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery
Companion Editions is a series of lectures and pocketbook readers presented by the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, Reed’s intimate academic museum nestled in the Reed College library. Companion Edition subjects include art history, poetry, art criticism, film studies, letters, calligraphy, and other forms of literary reflection. Companion Editions are curated and edited by Stephanie Snyder, Director and Curator of the Cooley Gallery, and the readers are designed by Heather Watkins, Portland, Oregon. Companion Editions events and books are meant to enrich, protect, and delight those who experience them.

Reed College
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97202
Inquiries: [email protected]


Hilma af Klint lecture at Cooley Gallery, Reed College

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Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College
August 22, 2014

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