Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hilma af Klint: The Abstract Modernist You Need To Know

Hilma af Klint, they tens mainstay IV (1907)

The Swan (# 16) (1915

The Ten Largest: # 10, Age (1907)

Hilma af Klint is the abstract modernist you have never heard of, but need to know.  She began experimenting with abstraction c. 1900, and ultimately created around 1,000 paintings and drawings before she died in 1944.   

In other words, she is one of the great pioneers, along side Kandinsky, Malevich, Picasso, and Klee...but, as is all too often the case when the person wielding the brush (pen, horn, baton, etc.) is a woman, af Klint has been largely ignored as the history of modern Western art is told...until now...

The Modern Museum in Stockholm last week opened a major retrospective of af Klint's work (running through May 26th, moving then to the Museum for Contemporary Art, Berlin and the Museo Picasso in Malaga).  Click here for more information.  

Af Klint thus joins Sonia Delaunay-Terk, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Hannah Hoech, Gabriele Muenter, Frida Kahlo, Lee Krasner and many, many other women who played central roles in the creation of the Modern.   How many others have we missed?  Keep re-evaluating and re-arranging the canon!  (*)

Click here for more on af Klint (her mysticism is particularly intriguing, especially as it aligns so much with the transcendentalism of, say, Kandinsky).  

(*)  Always seem to be running in place; haven't we been here before, forced to storm the walls over and over again?...from Hypatia through Christine de Pizan...and on and on.   Didn't Judy Chicago make these points decades ago?   Follow the scholarly & curatorial work of Linda Nochlin, Griselda Pollock, Faith Ringgold, Lucy Lippard.  

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