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The Queen of Abstraction: Hilma af Klint

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For the last few months, every artist that I follow on Instagram posted photos of their experience viewing the Hilma af Klint exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum and last week was my chance to see what it was all about. I was stunned…I knew nothing about her and the show was breathtaking. This is the first major solo exhibition in the United States devoted to the artwork of Hilma af Flint and is on view October 12, 2018–April 23, 2019 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

(Watch the video here: Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future.

At the turn of the 20th Century, artists were for the first time making art that wasn’t representational. The early abstract painters, Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich and others were creating a new style of artmaking and these “guys” are wildly recognized as the driving influence for American painters like Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollack and others. But, in Stockholm, Sweden, Hilma af Klint was working far away from the other European artists and in many ways she produced the most compelling abstract paintings of all.

Born in Stockholm in 1862, Hilma af Klint was influenced by the spiritual movements and scientific discoveries of her era and she began to create abstract artwsork in solitude. She was also one of the first women to graduate from a prestigious art school and she quickly established herself as a respected painter in Stockholm. But, from 1906 and 1915 she made an amazing turn where she created a body of paintings that were part of this spiritualist movement… but she never shared the paintings in her lifetime!

That’s what great museums like the Guggenheim do for us…they document and share things that create perspective for the past and influence our future. And, when the art is made by one of the most profoundly compelling female artists of all time, it is so great to see it.