March 8, 2013 - Moderna Museet - Hilma af Klint
March 8, 2013

Hilma af Klint

Left: Hilma af Klint, The Ten Largest, No. 7, Adulthood, Group IV, 1907. Right: Hilma af Klint, Altarpiece, No. 1, Group X, Altarpieces, 1915. © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk. Photo: Albin Dahlström.

Hilma af Klint
A Pioneer of Abstraction

16 February–26 May 2013

Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Skeppsholmen, Stockholm

Curator: Iris Müller-Westermann
Assistant Curator: Jo Widoff

One hundred years ago, Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) painted pictures for the future. 

By 1906, she had developed an abstract pictorial imagery—some years before artists such as Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian. Moderna Museet is celebrating Hilma af Klint as a pioneer of abstract art and one of Sweden’s greatest artists, a woman artist whose groundbreaking works and radical imagery have remained largely unknown to this day. It is high time that Hilma af Klint’s entire oeuvre is presented in its full complexity, in Sweden and the rest of the world. 

Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) was a pioneer of abstract art who turned away from figurative painting as early as 1906. Between 1906 and 1915, she produced nearly 200 abstract paintings, some of which are in monumental formats. Like Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), Piet Mondrian (1872–1972), Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935) and František Kupka (1871–1957), who are still regarded as the main protagonists of abstract art in the beginning of the 20th century, Hilma af Klint was influenced by contemporary spiritual movements, such as spiritualism, theosophy and, later, anthroposophy. When she painted, she believed that a higher consciousness was speaking through her. In her works Hilma af Klint combines geometric shapes and symbols with the ornamental. Her multifaceted imagery strives to give insights into the different dimensions of existence, where microcosm and macrocosm reflect one another.

Curator Iris Müller-Westermann:
“Hilma af Klint left behind a comprehensive and visually striking oeuvre. Her works are as powerful as they are enigmatic. Their complexity, scale, and consequence are astonishing. The artist unwaveringly explored new horizons at the outset of the 20th century, a radical pioneer of an art that abandoned the depiction of the visible reality. Hilma af Klint was one of the few female artists of her generation who fully pursued what she believed in. She was convinced of the importance of her artistic output and devoted all of her energies to her tasks.”

Between 1906 and 1915, Hilma af Klint created her central body of work, The Paintings for the Temple. This major cycle of mainly abstract works comprises 193 paintings in various series and subgroups. The first 111 paintings were produced between November 1906 and April 1908. The artist described how, as a medium, her hand was guided as she painted these pictures: “The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brushstroke.”

Hilma af Klint left more than 1,000 paintings and works on paper. Although she exhibited her early representational works, she refused to show her abstract paintings during her lifetime. In her will, she stipulated that these groundbreaking works must not be shown publicly until 20 years after her death. She was convinced that only then would the world be ready to understand their significance. 

Moderna Museet’s retrospective exhibition Hilma af Klint – A Pioneer of Abstraction is with its 230 works the most comprehensive presentation of Hilma af Klint’s oeuvre to date. 

Hilma af Klint – A Pioneer of Abstraction is produced by Moderna Museet, in collaboration with Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart and Museo Picasso Málaga. 

Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, 15 June–6 October 2013
Museo Picasso Málaga, 21 October 2013–9 February 2014
Additional venues to be annonunced.

The exhibition catalogue Hilma af Klint – A Pioneer of Abstraction includes essays by 
Iris Müller-Westermann, Helmut Zander, Pascal Rousseau and David Lomas.
The catalogue is produced in collaboration with Hatje Cantz Verlag and is available in Swedish, English, German and Spanish.
Scenography by chezweitz&partner, Berlin.

The exhibition at the Moderna Museet is sponsored by Brummer & Partners. 


Hilma af Klint at Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Moderna Museet
Share - Hilma af Klint
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York