Hilma af Klint

Dear Friends, my site was down for a few days so I missed sharing this essay on the birthday anniversary 26 October in 1862 of this amazing spiritual artist :

Hilma af Klint was a Swedish artist, mystic, Theosophist turned Anthroposophist, whose work can be understood in the context of the Modernist search for new forms in artistic, spiritual, political, & scientific systems at the beginning of the 20th century. There was a similar interest in spirituality by other artists during this same period, including Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Kasimir Malevitch, & the French Nabis, in which many, like Hilma af Klint, were inspired by the Theosophical Movement. However, the artistic transition to abstract art & the nonfigurative painting of Hilma af Klint came thru her without any contact with these contemporary modern movements. She was truly the first Western ‘Modern Abstract Artist’.

On the Cover: A Portrait of Swedish Painter Hilma af Klint | June 2020 |  Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

The works of Hilma af Klint are deeply esoteric, & her artistic work is a consequence of this.

She became interested in the Theosophy of Madame Blavatsky & the philosophy of Christian Rosenkreutz.

No form can come into objective existence — from the highest to the lowest — before the imaginal ideal of this form — or, as Aristotle would call it, the privation of this form — is called forth. Before an artist paints a picture every feature of it exists already in his imagination; to have enabled us to discern a watch, this particular watch must have existed in its imaginal form in the watchmaker’s mind. So with future men”. (Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled 1:310)

In 1908 she met Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Anthroposophical Society, who was on a visit to Stockholm.

Steiner introduced her to his own theories regarding the Arts, which had an influence on her paintings later in life. Several years later, in 1920, she met him again at the Goetheanum in Dornach. Between 1921 & 1930 she spent long periods at the Goetheanum.

The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation


Until recently very little was known about Hilma af Klint & her mystical paintings. She was born outside of Stockholm in 1862 to an upper-middle-class family. After the death of her younger sister, an 18-year-old Hilma turned to esoteric spiritual movements like Theosophy & Rosicrucianism, which attempted to reconcile what are usually seen as diametrically opposed belief systems: Christianity & Eastern philosophies commingled, with science & religion reinforcing—instead of contradicting—each other.

She regularly began to host séances to communicate with the dead. All the while she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm & became an accomplished landscape & portrait artist in her early years. This was her public art & how she earned her living. She was successful & talented enough to graduate from the academy with honors, & the school provided her with a shared studio right in the heart of the city’s art scene. The building also housed a salon, which, later in 1894, exhibited works by up-and-coming artist Edvard Munch.

It was sometime after the death of her sister in 1880, that Hilma af Klint formed a group called “The Five” or “The Friday Group.” This was an occult gathering of women who had ‘spirit world’ leaders, or ‘High Masters,’ called ‘Gregor, Clemens, Ameliel, Ananda & Esther’ among others inspiring their art. According to Hilma, in 1904, Ananda’ told her to begin producing paintings from the Astral Plane. This, she was informed, would follow a period of preparing to mediate a message. Many of Hilma af Klint’s works were the expression of these sessions in which she said she channeled symbolic messages from the Masters.

Hilma af Klint Artworks & Famous Paintings | TheArtStory

The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brushstroke”.

The Masters tasked the women with a special mission that would ultimately transform the trajectory & very purpose of Hilma af Klint’s life: to convey the spiritual world through painting, & to design a temple to house the resulting works. The other members of the group declined the charge, cautioning that such a prolonged, intense engagement with the spirit realm could lead to madness. But on January 1, 1906, af Klint promised the ‘Master Amaliel‘ that she would undertake this “great commission.”

In 1888 Hilma af Klint joined the Theosophical Society & became interested in the work of Annie Besant & Charles Leadbeater, & read Thought Forms, their ground-breaking book that discussed how thoughts could be seen as colored forms carrying the intent of the sender. She also met Rudolph Steiner & studied his Rosicrucian, Theosophical, & later Anthroposophical teachings, though Steiner was concerned about Hilma af Klint’s involvement with mediumship, warning her to at least take dietary precautions to ensure her health. All of these encounters informed her spiritual development & influenced her esoteric practices.

Group 3 Painting by Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint’s early works were direct translations of what she saw on the spiritual plane; later she took charge of interpreting her messages. This evolution in her approach could be considered as the progression of an initiate to that of an advanced pupil or adept who learned how to manage her spiritual teachings. “Mediumship is the opposite of adeptship; the medium is the passive instrument of foreign influences, the adept actively controls himself and all inferior potencies” (Isis Unveiled 2:588).

Hilma af Klint considered the works she produced during her mediumship experiences as a “commission,” the fundamental idea being “to convey knowledge about the unity of all existence, which lies hidden behind the polarized, dual world in which we live” (Hilma af Klint: A Pioneer of Abstraction). Her first painting series of the commission, was called The Temple (1907-1915)

The Universe According to Hilma af Klint | The New Republic

before she started she underwent rituals of purification. For about 10 months, Hilma af Klint prepared for her artistic task by adopting a vegetarian diet & working on her self-discipline. She began “The Paintings for the Temple” in 1906, &, even with several periods of rest (as mandated by the spirit guides), by 1908, she had completed the first 111 pieces in a monumental cycle that would come to encompass 193 works on canvas & paper by 1915. She also kept obsessively detailed notebooks about her working processes with notes & sketches, giving clues to the symbolism & spiritual ideals she embedded in her works. As she noted in her journals, “It was not the case that I was to blindly obey the High Lords of the Mysteries but that I was to imagine that they were always standing by my side.”

Decoding the Spiritual Symbolism of Artist Hilma af Klint | AnOther

Spirals & snails depict the spiral of evolution, & the tendril, as seen in plant growth, represents the consciousness that embodies life & seeks to grow. Inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Theory of Colours (1810) She wrote:  “white is the ‘holiest of all colours’, blue ‘the colour scale of powerful, real nature, the faithful’, and yellow, ‘the splendid colour of light, of the foundation of knowledge’.” Yellow also represents the masculine, blue the feminine, & green the merging of the two. Words & letters also have significance in her work. The letters AO & WU respectively represent spiritual evolution & the duality of spirit & matter. The word avonwener written across the top of one of her paintings means “those who try to shed light on the earthlings” (Hilma af Klint, p. 42).

The Swan Posters and Prints | Posterlounge.co.uk

Many of Hilma af Klint’s paintings (specifically in the Swan series) were the result of her study of polarities, as shown in her use of color, male & female figures, & the dual concepts of above & below (the connection between humanity & the universe), the stages of life, & the evolution humanity.

Paintings for the Temple | Hilma af klint, Art deco posters, Automatic  drawing

The last group of paintings in The Temple series consists of three large paintings that are called altar pieces. They were painted at the end of 1915. These works depict Anthroposophical concepts of spirit descending into matter (involution) & matter ascending into spirit (evolution) — an unending cycle, the universal dimensions of time & space without beginning or end represented by the circle.

Hilma af Klint's Altarpiece, No. 1, Group X – 20x200

The first painting, Altar Piece No. 1, may also depict the teachings of the seven rays as discussed in Blavatsky’s, Isis Unveiled (1:514): “The Rosicrucian theory, that the whole universe is a musical instrument, is the Pythagorean doctrine of the music of the spheres. Sounds and colors are all spiritual numerals; as the seven prismatic rays proceed from one spot in heaven, so the seven powers of nature, each of them a number, are the seven radiations of the Unity, the central, spiritual SUN.”

Hilma af Klint: A timely message from the beyond - Two Coats of Paint

When Hilma af Klint had completed the works for the Temple, the spiritual guidance ended.

File:Hilma af Klint Svanen.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Following The Temple series, Hilma af Klint’s work became very geometric through the years 1916-1920. At the tail end of the 19th century, a string of scientific developments were radically altering prevailing ideas about the world. Darwin’s evolutionary theories, while not yet entirely accepted in academic circles, matriculated into almost every sphere of popular culture. The discovery of subatomic particles, radioactivity, & the X-ray confirmed for spiritualists that there was, in fact, a godly, invisible realm of existence. Yet there was another compelling reason for Hilma af Klint to seek out these groups. While mainstream art circles were wary of female talent & participation, movements like Theosophy & Anthroposophy were very heavily run by women. These were areas of society where women were leaders. During this time she painted the Parsifal & Atom series, & a set of paintings on the great religions of the world.

Hilma af Klint - Hilma af Klint was convinced that reality... | Facebook

After meeting with Rudolph Steiner again in 1920, Hilma af Klint joined the Anthroposophical society & became immersed in the literature. These teachings influenced her to give up geometric abstraction & she started to paint watercolors. These later works focused on showing the unconscious life of plants in a soft, flowing veil of colors. Her later paintings are significantly smaller in size. She painted among others, a series depicting the stand-points of different religions at various stages in history, as well as representations of the duality between the physical being & its equivalence on an esoteric level. As Hilma af Klint pursued her artistic & esoteric research, we can clearly perceive the inspiration she gathered from the artistic theories developed by the Anthroposophical Society from 1920 onward.

Images for 268595. HILMA AF KLINT (1862-1944). Without title. Watercolor. -  Auctionet

Through her life, Hilma af Klint would seek to understand the mysteries that she had come in contact with through her work. She produced more than 150 notebooks with her thoughts and studies.

Mjältens kraft by Hilma af Klint on artnet

Hilma af Klint never dared to show her abstract work to her contemporaries. On the recommendation from Rudolf Steiner, her major works, dedicated to the Temple, should not be distributed yet, as that would negatively affect her health. Hilma af Klint drew the conclusion that her time was not yet ready to understand them. More than 1200 paintings & drawings were carefully stored away in her atelier, waiting for the future.

Hilma af Klint – A Beginning Anthroposophical Commentary

Hilma af Klint died in Djursholm, Sweden in 1944, nearly 82 years old, in the aftermath of a traffic accident, having only exhibited her works a handful of times, mainly at spiritual conferences and gatherings. Her works were given in trust to her nephew, requesting that they not be publicly revealed until at least 20 years after her passing.

Hilma af Klint | 100+ ideas on Pinterest in 2020 | hilma af klint,  abstract, abstract art

The world is often not ready to accept what pioneers working on the spiritual plane have discovered in their lifetime, & some things must wait to be revealed. In 1986, 42 years after her death, a small collection of Hilma af Klint’s remarkable paintings were publicly shown in “The Spiritual in Art,” Maurice Tuchman’s ground breaking exhibit held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

HILMA AF KLINT: ARTIST, RESEARCHER, MEDIUM - (KLINT, HILMA AF) Text by  Ernst Peter Fischer, Ylva Hillström, Milena Hoegsberg, Anne Sophie  Joergensen, Caroline Levander, Hedvig Martin, Iris Müller-Westermann, Tim  Rudboeg | Arcana:

It was not until 2013 that the first major exhibition of her work was shown at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (they rejected her work for many years) The museum curated more than 1000 paintings & 125 notebooks. These works were unpacked from mysterious trunks, some of which had never been opened, & included her thoughts, mediumship experiences, & notes about her paintings.

Rudolf Steiner School NYC doing Eurythmy in honor of Hilma af Klint at the  Guggenheim Museum - YouTube

And of course the 2019 exhibit “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future,” at the Guggenheim, broke world records for attendance. Anthroposophers even staged a eurythmy flash mob on the spiral stairs to honor her work.

Hilma af Klint - 26 artworks - painting

Hilma af Klint’s last known paintings were completed in 1932. They were visionary maps foretelling the London blitz & the naval battle in the Mediterranean during World War II. On October 9, 1944, she wrote her last journal entry which seems to tell us that her work on earth was done, but would carry on elsewhere: “You have mystery service ahead, and will soon enough realize what is expected of you” (Hilma af Klint: A Pioneer of Abstraction, p. 279)

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31 October, 1 pm – 3 pm CT ​​​​​​​

‘Soul to Soul’ on-line Festival

with the Central Regional Council

& Special Guests

Soul to Soul’ Festival with the Central Regional Council & Special Guests 1pm – 3pm CDT (2pm – 4pm EDT) All Hallows Eve, Saturday October 31st, 2020

Every culture has a festival celebrating their Beloved Dead. For deep in our bones we know that those who have passed through the gates of death want to work with us on the physical world, reminding us that everything physical is an outer expression of spirit.

During this time of year the veils between the worlds are thin, and the spiritual realm beckons. Having put the iron will of Michael to work in our thinking, we now have the courage to look beyond the veil of the material world into the spirit realm, the place of our beginning and our ending, only to begin again and yet again…for every ending is a new beginning.

We will open with some poetry and music played by Carol Kelly, followed by an enactment of an original script by Hazel Archer-Ginsberg, based on indications from Spiritual Science.

We will go into small breakout groups to explore the theme: “Who do you want to be in the new year”.

Eurhythmy Halleluiah

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89715703794
Meeting ID: 897 1570 3794

If you have questions, please contact Alberto Loya aloyavaca@utexas.edu

The CRC – Marianne Fieber, Alberto Loya, Hazel Archer-Ginsberg, Lisa Dalton

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All Souls Election Night Vigil

7 pm – 9 pm CT. Tuesday 3 November 2020

(new zoom codes)

Interpreting Global Issues Through Picasso's Guernica | Pulitzer Center
Dusee Aeye

In-person at Elderberries Chicago & online

Through Social Sculpture, we will hold space with each other, connect with our Angel, the ‘so called dead’, the Being of America…etc…to bring healing on both sides of the Threshold, during Election Night 2020, & on into the future which we are committing to consciously co-create.

Welcome – Anne Nicholson

Verse – Deborah Rogers

Why an All Souls Election Night Vigil? – Hazel Archer-Ginsberg

Metamorphosis – Lucien Dante Lazar. Through a 5-point artistic metamorphosis that will weave throughout the evening we will rise in our thinking, & engage our will, to work with the beings of color, form & gesture from point to periphery.   

Intermingling: Initiatives for NOW – The 3-Fold Social Order & ALIANT Alliance – Elderberries  + ALL = The Art of Goethean Conversation

Break-Out Session – groups of 3 for 15 minutes

Michael-Star Movement – Lucien + Nancy Melvin + ALL

Verse – Elizabeth Kelly

In-person at Elderberries Chicago & online

Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/7052931041 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041

***

New date, time, zoom codes & Special Guest

Saturday 7 November 2020,

In-person & On-line

3 pm – 5 pm CT

‘Connections Revealed’

with Lelan Harris, Mary Ruud & Hazel Archer

The Connection Between Epidemics, the Souls of the Dead, & the Spiritual World – Leading thoughts by Hazel Archer-Ginsberg based on Spiritual Scientific research & indications from Rudolf Steiner

Inspirations by Lelan Harris – the executive director of Wise Cosmos Educational Initiative (WiseCosmos.org).  Lelan is a healer, teacher, and leader with over 40 years of experience in vocational roles such as pastor, professor, and Waldorf school administrator.  He offers developmental mentoring, spiritual training, and energy healing in order to raise up new generations of leaders in service at all levels to humanity, Earth, and cosmos.

Group Eurythmy with Mary Ruud

Break out Sessions

In-person at Elderberries Biodynamic Outpost & 3 fold Cultural Hub, in conjunction with the Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago, 4249-51 N. Lincoln Ave.

Online hosted by Anne Nicholson on Zoom

https://zoom.us/j/7052931041 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041

6 thoughts on “Hilma af Klint

  1. Hi Hazel,

    As you indicate in this post, Steiner felt compelled to tell Hilma about her level of ability as a medium. He encouraged her in the direction of what could make her an adept, and this is likely how it became possible for her to write 250 notebooks. As well, he felt that her paintings were well ahead of their time, and that she should protect herself from a severely negative reaction if they were shown in her lifetime. This is proved to be true when they were first displayed in Sweden in the latter part of the 20th century. They were rejected, which proves Steiner’s good grace upon Hilma in keeping her works for a later time. This would come with the advent of the third millennium, and the showings in 2013 and 2019.

    Rudolf Steiner has been the recipient of scorn from his critics in recent years for his suggestions to Hilma at the time he met her. They think he served to repress her genius in the artistic expression by telling her to keep it for a later age, and yet it seems it was the right suggestion. She also worked toward being more of an adept, rather than a mere medium. 250 notebooks proves that.

    1. Yes, I have many friends who have said the same thing, scorning Steiner, but as you have said I try to mention how complicated these things are. And it really did seem that she was able to advance in her evolution.

  2. Great that you presented Hilma af Klint.In 2018/19 there was an exhibition in Munich on the drawings of Rudolf Steiner, Hilma af Klint and Emma Kunz. So I want to draw the attention to Emma Kunz who is not widely known outside Switzerland and Germany.
    https://www.emma-kunz.com/en/
    Robert

    1. O thank you Robert. How wonderful that exhibition must have been! I look forward to exploring more of Emma Kunz

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