Hilma AF Klint: Paintings for the Future

Hilma Af Klint (Artist) Tracey Bashkoff (Editor)
& 8 more


Hilma af Klint's daring abstractions exert a mystical magnetism

When Swedish artist Hilma af Klint died in 1944 at the age of 81, she left behind more than 1,000 paintings and works on paper that she had kept largely private during her lifetime. Believing the world was not yet ready for her art, she stipulated that it should remain unseen for another 20 years. But only in recent decades has the public had a chance to reckon with af Klint's radically abstract painting practice--one which predates the work of Vasily Kandinsky and other artists widely considered trailblazers of modernist abstraction. Her boldly colorful works, many of them large-scale, reflect an ambitious, spiritually informed attempt to chart an invisible, totalizing world order through a synthesis of natural and geometric forms, textual elements and esoteric symbolism.

Accompanying the first major survey exhibition of the artist's work in the United States, Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future represents her groundbreaking painting series while expanding recent scholarship to present the fullest picture yet of her life and art. Essays explore the social, intellectual and artistic context of af Klint's 1906 break with figuration and her subsequent development, placing her in the context of Swedish modernism and folk art traditions, contemporary scientific discoveries, and spiritualist and occult movements. A roundtable discussion among contemporary artists, scholars and curators considers af Klint's sources and relevance to art in the 21st century. The volume also delves into her unrealized plans for a spiral-shaped temple in which to display her art--a wish that finds a fortuitous answer in the Guggenheim Museum's rotunda, the site of the exhibition.

Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) is now regarded as a pioneer of abstract art. Though her paintings were not seen publicly until 1987, her work from the early 20th century predates the first purely abstract paintings by Kandinsky, Mondrian and Malevich.

Product Details

Price: $65.00  $58.50
Publisher: Guggenheim Museum
Published Date: October 23, 2018
Pages: 244
Dimensions: 8.8 X 1.0 X 11.6 inches | 3.0 pounds
Language: English
Type: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780892075430

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About the Author

Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) is now regarded as a pioneer of abstract art. Though her paintings were not seen publicly until 1987, her work from the early 20th century predates the first purely abstract paintings by Kandinsky, Mondrian and Malevich.


Af Klint's ascendancy feels inevitable: She could be viewed as a heroine for our current moment, an artist who rejected commercial success, resisted the pull of self-publicity, and challanged the myth of individual authorship.--Julia Bryan-Wilson "Bookforum "
[The exhibition] remains as radical as ever and offers a welcome retort to modernism's male-centric narrative.--Elle
Profoundly moving. ... It is as though, in our apocalyptic time, we need af Klint's work now more than ever, and the purity of vision and intent it represents.--Ann McCoy "Brooklyn Rail "
[af Klint's] art's power is in its secrecy, its marking-off of sacred space. Its period of gestation, of waiting for humanity to catch up, is a demonstration of its sincerity.--Sabat Magazine
[A] superb catalog.--Roberta Smith "The New York Times "
Af Klint set about composing for posterity an alluring eye-music that echoed back the complex psyche of her age.--Kelly Grovier "BBC "
The paintings tap into the buzzy zeitgeist of occult spirituality.--Priscilla Frank "Huffington Post "
Somewhat like the biomorphic forms of a later artist like Joan Miró, many of these pieces play with geometry and floral shapes that frequently overlap as they seem to swim across the canvas.--Merrill Lee Girardeau "NYC City Guide "
One of the most overlooked artists of the 20th century.--Galerie
Klint's biomorphoc compositions call to mind horticultural diagrams conveived on psychedelics - and showcase a level of mysticism not found in successors like Kandinsky.--Cultured
Demands that we rethink, re-evaluate and revise the lineage of art history.--Lance Esplund "Wall Street Journal "
Af Klint did not ask for her work to be destroyed, only delayed. She did not wait for the world to discover her paintings. The world had to wait for them.--Prudence Peiffer "Garage "
Klint created her own optical language with visual, chromatic, structural, and narrative syntax. Her artistic ship sails some of the deepest waters around.--Jerry Saltz "Vulture "
The current celebration of af Klint's paintings suggests the primacy of visual communication should be backdated. The retrospective also underscores the important role that women played in its emergence.--Nancy Princenthal "Art in America "
The mother of all revisionist shows of Modernism.--New York Times
The canvases are massive and their idiosyncratic shapes, squiggles, and colors provide the viewer with an overwhelming sense of wonder.--Zachary Small "Hyperallergic "
Af Klint was not part of the larger abstract art movement so populated by men, but many of her paintings--vibrant, strange paintings inspired by her deep interest in Spiritism and Theosophy--predate those famous as pioneers of the style.--Monica Uszerowicz "Observer "
Without precedent in the history of art.--Cristiana Campanini "Abitare "
Gorgeous book.... The implications of these works are not only gargantuan, but also infinitely pleasurable to look at. And as written about in this wonderful volume, great to read about. By the time you put down this book, Hilma af Klint will be embedded in your visual library forever.--Jerry Saltz "Vulture "
af Klint's contribution, arrayed here in all its abundant originality, threatens to reduce to a footnote the mostly male history of esoteric abstraction.--Artforum
'Paintings for the Future' endorses Klint's mystical conviction that the spiral symbolizes the dualities of the universe--good and evil, male and female, known and unknown--slowly reaching equilibrium.--Canada Choate "Artforum "
A week after I saw [af Klint's paintings], their pulsing loveliness remains undimmed in my mind, like a self-replenishing sense memory of summer.--Sebastian Smee "Washington Post "
The show feels like both a transmission from an unmapped other world and a perfectly logical correction to the history of Modern art.--Ben Davis "Artnet "
The Guggenheim Museum offers a revisionary chapter about the start of modern abstraction in its current headliner, "Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future," introducing works that this Swedish artist and mystic made in 1906-7.--Roberta Smith "New York Times "
[The paintings are] talismanic, vibrating with hidden mystical meaning. ... they represent the enduring evolution of the entire cosmos, the triumphant union of dualities.--Ania Szremski "4Columns "
[af Klint's] striking artwork expresses a vision of non-figurative art that was ahead of her time and establishes her as a pioneer of abstract art.--Barnebys
The art, fearfully esoteric and influenced by its creator's séances and spiritualism, matches a present mood of restless searching.--Peter Schjedahl "New York Magazine "
The case of Hilma af Klint is among the most fascinating in art history.--Deborah Solomon "WNYC "
Though she looked conservative, af Klint was nothing if not radical.--Nana Asfour "Paris Review "
She had a penchant for the occult - a "commission" from a spirit at a seance inspired her to create her most striking paintings...--The Economist
The project of Hilma af Klint and her female colleagues was the result of great maturity, of confidence and collective efforts, performed both in work and in life.--Women's Art Journal
The concentrated spirituality- egoless consciousness- that is delivered by the best pictures here, so fresh that they might have been made this morning or tomorrow or decades from now, feels like news that is new again.--Peter Schjeldahl "New Yorker "