‘Hilma Who?’ No More

Spiritual sparks helped inspire the radical and visionary art of Hilma af Klint, the new (old) name to know. Her work is on view at the Guggenheim.


Comments: 9

  1. A fine review of an interesting artist. But I do wish that Ms Smith would stop seeing her own discoveries as finds for all of us (game-changing?) because many of us have known about Hilma for years.

  2. @Patrick
    Agreed! There is a wonderful book called 3X Abstraction, a study of Agnes Martin, Hilma af Klint, and Emma Kunz, published in 2005, by Catherine de Zegher. Highly recommend it but find it in a library. It's now listing for upwards of $500 on Amazon.

  3. Very decorative and interesting to view. I'm sure the impact of seeing the pieces in person is much greater than images on the web. I first realized the difference between viewing print images and actual large scale works as a preteen when I saw Seurat's "La Grande Jatte" at the Art Institute of Chicago. I had a similar revelation after seeing actual Frank Stella paintings (in LA, I believe). In both cases I was familiar with the works beforehand and was fascinated by both artists but nothing prepared me for actually standing before these immense canvases and experiencing them firsthand. On the other hand, I've not found a similar difference in experience between viewing, say, a Frederic Remington painting and a good quality large format print in a publication of his works. Size does matter.

  4. As I read this article I kept thinking about the Surrealists and how the history of their movement seems to dovetail nicely with this Klint exhibition. The Surrealists also "made automatic drawings", and began (in about 1915-16) at just about the same time Klint did "The Swan".

    According to the article, The Five base their work around "occult and spiritualist writings, including Rosicrucianism and Buddhism". The Surrealists on the other hand - who were mostly Communists and Atheists - based their work on the budding field of depth psychology (psychoanalysis). The two groups seem to be explaining the same mental phenomenon through their art, but from the perspective of different causal explanations (philosophies).

    As a point of comparison, Carl Jung - one of the pioneers of depth psychology with Freud and Adler - completed his doctoral thesis in 1902: "On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena." However he, along with Freud, pretty much concluded that occult phenomena were the result of unconscious processes (the mainstay of the Surrealists). The Klint exhibition at the Guggenheim seems to reflect the state of the non-cubist art world just before Surrealism emerged.

  5. She must have been a special person.
    Getting into a top school for a woman took courage and determination.
    I am not a artist nor have I studied art.
    I go to Museums often and have developed a appreciation of art that on based on my personal taste.
    I have been told that is the way art should be seen.
    You shouldn't have to like a piece of art because someone tells you it is great.
    I have seen the Mona Lisa the most expensive painting in the world and by far at the Louvre and didn't like it.
    I don't like what I see in this article.
    I feel they lack creativity.
    They feel too mechanic to me.
    I like other artist that I feel are similar.
    I like Jasper Johns and Joan Miro.
    For all I know they could have been influenced by her and maybe that is why people like her work.

  6. Beautiful paintings
    Never learned about this artist in school
    Better late than never, I guess.

  7. I enjoyed your article, Roberta. Thank you.

  8. 1907? After looking at Hilma af Klint's work, the abstract male artists to follow looks dated.

  9. So very beautiful.