Kumu hosts exhibition of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint

3/11/2015 9:04 AM
Category: Culture

The exhibition "Hilma af Klint. A Pioneer of Abstraction," set to open in Kumu art museum on Friday, was compiled by the Stockholm Moderna Museet and is the most extensive display of the oeuvre of an artist who can be considered a true sensation in Swedish art history. A number of featured works are being shown to the public for the first time.

Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) was one of the few female artists in her time who dared to pursue untrodden paths. Educated in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, she later became increasingly more interested in alternative movements, such as spiritualism, theosophy and anthroposophy. In the years 1906–1915 af Klint painted the central cycle of her oeuvre, The Paintings for the Temple, which is comprised of 193 works of art. Despite being an artist from Sweden, the periphery of the contemporary art world, Hilma af Klint’s works established the first landmarks in the history of abstract art – years before the endeavours of such recognised pioneers of abstractionism as Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and František Kupka. Unlike the other abstractionists, af Klint kept her work secret during her lifetime, as she felt that the audience was incapable of understanding her. So the large-scale, mysterious, abstract systems of radical colours, remained a well-kept secret for several decades. 

Iris Müller-Westermann, the curator of the exhibition, said af Klint leaves the impression of a very thorough, conscious and analytical artist who boldly followed her visions. Af Klint’s works, which include both organic imagery that has evolved from natural shapes and the purely geometrical language of abstraction, are multi-layered systems full of different symbols. “The symbols in Hilma af Klint’s paintings serve as doors into another world, which can be opened by each visitor in his or her own way,” Müller-Westermann added.

In connection with the exhibition, Kumu has organised an series of events on the treatment of abstractionism in various fine arts. The opening event of the series is a talk by Vilen Künnapu on April 2 at 18:00 on "Hilma af Klint. Spirituality in Art."

The exibition is accompanied by a comprehensive English-language catalogue issued by the Moderna Museett.

The exhibition has proved popular in all its previous locations: the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the Picasso Museum in Málaga, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and the Helsinki Taidehalli. Af Klint’s works were also represented in a display of contemporary art in the last Venice Biennale.

The display in the Kumu Great Hall will remain open from 13 March until 7 June.

M. Oll

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