I had never been to New York’s Guggenheim Museum until last month when I saw the Hilma af Klint exhibit.

I couldn’t help but be amazed and take hundred of photos.

 

 

(Childhood -1 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

Born in 1862, Hilma was a spiritual seeker who devoted her life to expressing the mystical realms through painting.  Having discovered Theosophy in my early 20s and Anthroposophy years later, Hilma’s paintings in some ways felt like a coming home.

 

 

(Childhood -2 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

How does an artist paint, or express, the mysterious spiritual non-physical life forces that bring life and creation into physical form?

 

 

(Youth -3 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

How does a young Swedish artist, the first woman admitted to the Royal Arts Academy in Stockholm in 1882, portray abstract spiritualist ideas when only portraits, landscapes and realism were considered art?

 

(Youth -4 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

In 1906 Hilma started painting abstract forms and mysterious letters in ten large paintings, each over ten feet tall and seven feet wide. She had been meeting with four other women artists in séances for a decade. Hilma was “commissioned” by one of the spirit guides of these sessions to create paintings for a temple. She created 193.

 

The first series, ten large paintings show the four stages of humankind’s life. These paintings where a collaboration of Hilma and her spirit guide. The other paintings for the temple were inspired, but perhaps not so directly influenced by, her guide.  

(Adulthood -5 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

Her abstract paintings predated the “first” abstract paintings of other male western artists.

(Adulthood -6 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

These large paintings, and others, were to be part of a temple that would show the unseen spiritual forces of nature and life.

 

 

(Adulthood -7 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

In nine years, she created 193 paintings for the temple of these mysteries. 

 

 

(Adulthood -8 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

The temple was never built.

(Old Age -9 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

 

(Old Age -10 – Series of ten showing life force from childhood to old age)

In 1930, she drew a sketch of this temple. It was to be a round shaped three-story building with a large spiral staircase in the center.

The largest exhibit of her paintings ever shown in the North America is now on display in the spiral ramp design of the Guggenheim built in 1959. When Frank Lloyd Wright was chosen to design this museum his instructions were to build a “temple of the spirit”, a fitting place for Hilma af Klint’s paintings. 

 

(The Swan 1 – from the swan series)

 

 

(Altarpiece -2 – for the altar of the temple)

 

 

(Altarpiece -1 – for the altar of the temple)

Hilma af Klint was a spiritual seeker who was deeply involved with the mystical ideas of Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Anthroposophy and Christianity.  

 

 

(The Christian Religion)

 

(Teachings of Buddha)

 

The ideas of unseen life forces, like chakras and auras, were common ideas to these mystical teachings. They were not mainstream thoughts in the early 1900s, nor are they mainstream now. Although the idea of chakras is pretty well known if you’ve ever taken a yoga class.

(Primordial Chaos – 21 – from Primordial Chaos series)

 

Hilma requested that her paintings not be shown until twenty years after her death. In her lifetime she created over 1,200 paintings and drawings.  It has been more than twenty years since she died in 1944.  Who knows how her paintings would have been received by the art world of the 1900s?  Today they are being honored in the Guggenheim’s “temple of the spirit”. 

 

 

(The Dove – 13 – from Dove Series)

 

(The Dove – 13)

 

 

These are few of the many photos I took of Hilma’s paintings. Her paintings resonate a yearning to experience, and a knowledge of, the unseen forces of creation and creativity that are the foundation of our seen and felt world.  Hilma’s painting are “Paintings for the Future” as the Guggenheim describes them.

 

(The Dove – 1 – from Dove Series)

ENJOY & CREATE

Share

4 Responses to Artist of the Mysteries – Hilma af Klint

  1. Claudia Rose says:

    Isn’t Hilma’s work incredible? I have studied her work for a few years. The scale is awesome, and the compositions so original! Truly, she was inspired by Spirit.

  2. Sophia says:

    I have long been entranced by her paintings. They are an inspiration and encouragement to express the mystical and almost inexpressible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *