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  • Hello, my name is Paul PriestleyWelcome to Art History School,  

  • the home of art history for everyone. Today  we are going to look at the Swedish artist,  

  • Hilma af Klint, once barely a footnote in the  history of art, but now she transcends the modern  

  • art greats such as Kandinsky and MondrianHow did this happen? Let's find out

  • Hilma af Klint was born on 26 October 1862,  at the Karlberg Palace in Solna, Sweden, the  

  • naval academy where her father was based. She was  the fourth of five children born to Mathilda and  

  • Victor af Klint who were both staunch ProtestantsHer father was a mathematician and an admiral in  

  • the Swedish navy. Most of her childhood was spent  in the Karlberg Palace, but during the summers,  

  • the family would move to Adelsö, an island in Lake  Malaren, near Stockholm. It was here that Hilma's  

  • fascination with nature and organic life began. In 1872 the family moved to Stockholm  

  • where Hilma attended the General School for GirlsIn 1880 she moved on to the Technical School,  

  • now known as Konstfack, and studied classical  portraiture under the supervision of the artist  

  • Kerstin Cardon. Around this time, she became  a committed vegetarian, usually wore black and  

  • began to develop an interest in the spiritual  and the occult. These interests grew rapidly  

  • following the death of her ten-year-old sisterHermina when Hilma was just eighteen years old.  

  • Soon after this tragic event she attended her  firstances and mystical group meetings

  • At the age of 20 in 1882, Hilma enrolled at the  Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. She  

  • was one of the first women to do so and spent the  next five years studying drawing, portraiture and  

  • landscape painting. She graduated with honours and  as a result, was awarded a studio in the Academy's  

  • Atelier Building”, in Stockholm's artist quarter. Here she met fellow student Anna Cassel  

  • who became a lifelong friend. At this time  Hilma painted landscapes and portraits very  

  • successfully and this quickly became the source  of her financial independence and stability.  

  • She was lucky in that the Scandinavian education  system, unlike most of Europe and America admitted  

  • both men and women to their Academies and it was  not uncommon for women to make a living from their  

  • art. However, as we shall see it was unusual for  women such as Hilma af Klint to become visionaries  

  • and outshine their male contemporaries. In 1889 the Swedish Theosophical Society  

  • was founded in Stockholm, in the house of  the writer Viktor Rydberg and Hilma af Klint  

  • soon became a member. Theosophy was based on the  idea of the universal brotherhood of humanity  

  • without the distinction of race, creed, sexcaste, or colour. It encouraged the study  

  • of religion, philosophy, and science and the  investigation of the unexplained laws of nature  

  • and the powers latent in man. In 1896 she joined the Edelweiss Society  

  • but left soon after with four other like-minded  women artists and founded theFriday Group”,  

  • also known asThe Five”. They met every Friday  for spiritual meetings, including prayers, studies  

  • of the New Testament, meditation andancesThe medium, Sigrid Hedman, was one of the five,  

  • led exercises in automatic writing, a form  of writing and drawing which began with no  

  • preconceived subject or composition in mind. This  idea was decades before the Surrealists would  

  • use automatic drawing to generate their ideas. The Five established contact with spiritual beings  

  • whom they calledThe High Mastersand received  messages through a psychograph, an instrument for  

  • recording spirit writings. They made meticulous  notes of theirances and these experiences led  

  • to a definite change in Hilma af Klint's art. In 1898 Hilma's father died so she moved to 52  

  • Brahegatan in Stockholm to live with her motherBut in 1904 Hilma af Klint's work profoundly  

  • changed after what can only be described as  an otherworldly experience. During a séance,  

  • she claimed to have heard a voice telling her  to make paintings 'on an astral plane' in order  

  • to 'proclaim a new philosophy of life'. In 1905 she noted the voice Amaliel,  

  • had given her the following message: 'You  are to proclaim a new philosophy of life  

  • and you yourself are to be a part of the  new kingdom. Your labours will bear fruit.' 

  • So, in November 1906 at age 44,  Hilma af Klint began painting,  

  • 'The Paintings for the Temple,' which comprised  several series of paintings on various themes.  

  • The first, preparatory group was called Primordial  Chaos and consisted of twenty-six small pictures.  

  • According to Hilma af Klint, these paintings were  created under the guidance of a High Master. The  

  • paintings are reminiscent of landscapes, ofstormy sea above which flicker mysterious lights.  

  • Others break free entirely from representationcombining geometric shapes such as spirals with  

  • dynamic brushstrokes, letters  of the alphabet and symbols.  

  • It was a conscious decision on her part to keep  these works secret, only showing them to a small,  

  • very select group of friends. In 1908, Rudolf Steiner,  

  • leader of the German Theosophical Society, held  several lectures in Stockholm. On one occasion  

  • he visited Hilma af Klint's studio and saw  some of the early 'Paintings for the Temple'  

  • and declared he could not decipher them and  doubted anyone one would in the next 50 years

  • Later in 1908 Hilma moved to a studio in  a building on Brahegatan in Stockholm,  

  • so she can take care of her blind mother, whom  she had cared for, for several years. As a result,  

  • work onThe Paintings for the Templestopped  for the next four years during which time  

  • she took up the study of philosophy. In 1912 Hilma af Klint rented a villa  

  • owned by the Giertta family on the island  Munsö near Stockholm and resumed work on  

  • thePaintings for the Temple”. Between 1912 and  1915 she painted another 82 works to complete the  

  • Paintings for the Templewhich totalled 193  works, subdivided into series and sub-groups

  • Hilma af Klint shared an interest in the spiritual  with the other pioneers of abstract art including  

  • Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and Piet  Mondrian. And like Hilma af Klint many were  

  • drawn to Theosophy, which opened a route  towards a new world of spiritual reality,  

  • rather than merely depicting visual  impressions of the world around them

  • To Hilma af Klint her spiritual guides, who  inspired and communicated with her, were as  

  • real as the impressions provided by her physical  senses. By visualising these inner processes  

  • and experiences and giving them visual form, she  created a highly idiosyncratic form of expression

  • Had she not kept her abstract work secret  she would surely have held the accolade of  

  • producing the world's first abstract paintingsInstead, Kandinsky's paintings of 1911 would,  

  • until recently, come to be recognised  as the first abstract works of art

  • In 1911 Hilma af Klint's early  naturalist paintings were exhibited  

  • by the Association of Swedish Women Artists at  the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm.  

  • She participated in the world congress of the  Theosophical Society in Stockholm in 1913, and the  

  • following year exhibited naturalistic paintings  at the Baltic exhibition in Malmö, with artists  

  • from the Nordic and Baltic countries as well as  Germany, and Russia who, incidentally, featured  

  • works by Wassily Kandinsky. She was convinced the  world was not ready for her abstract paintings

  • 1916 saw Hilma af Klint develop her metaphysical  paintings through further studies of the  

  • spiritual. The Parsifal Series, resulted from  this study and was a numbered sequence of 144  

  • works on paper. The series title may refer  to the Arthurian legend in which Parsifal,  

  • one of the Knights of the Round Table, took  part in the quest for the Holy Grail and like  

  • the legend of the Holy Grail, the paintings  represent a search for spiritual knowledge

  • TheAtomsseries is concerned with  the world beyond the observable world,  

  • remember this is a time when science was  discovering x rays, sound waves, atoms,  

  • subatomic particles and the like. Hilma af Klint  explored how she might create a visual equivalent  

  • of this hidden existence. Her images include  notations that indicate atoms moving through a  

  • period of development, until they achieve onenessmuch like the path and goals of spiritualism

  • Hilma af Klint's new studio was completed in  1917 in Munsö near Stockholm, and it was here  

  • that she first showed her Atoms series tofew selected people. The following year Hilma,  

  • her mother and her nurse, Thomasine Andersson  moved to the villa Furuheim in Munsö. 

  • 1920 was an intensely creative year for Hilma af  Klint. In several series of small oil paintings,  

  • she explored the great world religionsShe saw religions as based on duality,  

  • that is, a division into opposites, such  as good and evil, order and chaos. None of  

  • them appeared to Hilma af Klint to attain unity. Later, in 1920 following the death of her mother,  

  • Hilma and Thomasine Andersson, moved  to Helsingborg where Hilma joined the  

  • Anthroposophical Society. Later in the  year they visited Dornach in Switzerland,  

  • where Hilma again met Rudolf Steiner, a  founder member of the Anthroposophical society.  

  • Influenced by his views, Hilma af Klint  gave up painting geometric compositions.  

  • And after a two-year hiatus in 1922 began painting  water-colours in which she allowed the flow of the  

  • colour to dictate the subject matter. She also  painted watercolours relating to nature, as in  

  • the series On the Viewing of Flowers and Trees. During the 1920's she spent long periods  

  • in Dornach, studying anthroposophy and  attended many of Rudolf Steiner's lectures.  

  • Between the years 1925 and 1930 she appears not to  have painted at all or produced any written texts

  • In 1927 she donated a series of flower studiesmosses and lichen to the scientific library in  

  • Dornach, in which she had systemised nature  according to her own research. Unfortunately,  

  • this collection appears to have disappeared. In 1932 she painted A map of Great Britain, in  

  • which she foresaw the second World war. Here you  can see a pale face blowing fire towards Britain,  

  • a foretelling of the Blitz of 1940, perhapsAccording to a great nephew Johan af klint  

  • she had the gift of prophecy. In 1935 she moved to Lund,  

  • near Malmö and in 1940 Thomasine Andersson, her  lifelong companion died. Later in 1944 she went  

  • to live with her cousin Hedvig af Klint in  Stockholm. But later that year on 21 October  

  • 1944 she died from complications resulting  from injuries received in a traffic accident.  

  • She was 81 years old. Interestingly, Wassily  Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian also died in 1944. 

  • On her death Hilma af Klint left more than  1,200 works of art, which had only been seen  

  • by a handful of people, in addition to some  125 notebooks which were found in trunks,  

  • some of which had never been openedThe notebooks detailed her thoughts,  

  • mediumship experiences and notes about  her paintings. In one of notebooks, she  

  • stipulated that her work should not be publicly  displayed until at least 20 years after her death

  • Hilma af Klint did not have any contact  with the modern movements of her time,  

  • yet she is now generally considered to be the  pioneer of abstract art - her first abstract  

  • painting created in 1906, pre-dates Kandinsky's by  five years. The delayed appreciation of her work  

  • is due in part to her own wishes. She rarely  exhibited or participated in any form of  

  • self-promotion and only showed her abstract works  to a select few. In fact, it was not until 1986,  

  • when one of her abstract paintings was shown  in a collective exhibition in Los Angeles,  

  • entitled The Spiritual in Art, did the  general public see her work. In 2013  

  • the Modern Museum in Stockholm hosted the  first exhibition dedicated solely to her work  

  • and it was from this point that her work  began to receive the acclaim it deserved

  • Belatedly, Hilma af Klint is now  regarded in the art world as the  

  • true pioneer and inventor of abstraction. Thank you for watching, I hope you have really  

  • enjoyed learning about Hilma af Klint,  a truly innovative artist. If you have,  

  • then please subscribe to my channel and do not  forget to click the little black bell, because  

  • that will tell you when my next video is releasedIf you want to support the making of these videos,  

  • then please check out my Patreon channel where you  will find lots of interesting rewards in return  

  • for your patronage. Thank you for watching,  I will see you in the next video. Goodbye.

Hello, my name is Paul PriestleyWelcome to Art History School,  

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Hilma af Klint: The Life of an Artist: Art History School

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    Knight に公開 2021 年 10 月 01 日
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