Who was Hilma af Klint?
Born in Sweden in 1862, Hilma quickly displayed an aptitude for the Sciences and Arts. Admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at twenty, she excelled particularly in drawing, portraiture, and landscape painting. These were the tools she would use to support herself for her life. It was also at the Royal Academy where she met the first of five female artists and close friends with whom she shared an esoteric spiritual interest.
Abstract Art and Symbolism.
After twenty years of conventional artwork, Hilma began to create her great work, blending her spiritual beliefs with her paintings. These became an exploration into abstract art combined with geometry, figuration, scientific research, and religious symbolism. While her abstract art predated that of other artists, a spiteful comment made by a trusted spiritual advisor affected her so deeply that she kept her collection of over 1,200 large abstract paintings hidden from the world.
Introducing Hilma af Klint.
Upon her death in 1944, her entire hidden collection was willed to her nephew with the stipulation that they not be displayed for another twenty years. When that time had elapsed, her nephew attempted to gift the paintings to Moderna Museet, a state museum for modern and contemporary art in Stockholm, but the donation was declined. Fortunately for the world, another art historian, Ake Fant, introduced her paintings to the world in 1984, to great acclaim. A new exhibition center is underway in Stockholm to display her works and incidentally, a recent long-term agreement with the Moderna Museet was reached where they would dedicate and area to house twenty of Hilma’s paintings on a rotating basis.
The Birth of New Ideas.
It is a well-known aspect of world history that significant ideas are born to multiple individuals in the same periods of time. Although we acclaim those who present such ideas to the world as the inventor or conceptualizer, there have always been others working on the same idea at the same time. Hilma af Klint has been hailed as a woman ahead of her time, both in her artwork and in her spirituality.
Allow me to introduce you to another woman thinking outside the box, Mary Barr 1828.
In 1828, at the young age of 12, Mary began working on a semi-traditional sampler that incorporated many traditional aspects, such as several upper-case alphabets but aligned vertically and horizontally in a decorative square design with the bottom rows stitched upside-down. She then adds many of geometric shapes; rectangles, triangles, diamonds, hexagons, etc., all in bold colors that sets her sampler well apart from the more traditional samplers of her day.
you can buy the sampler pattern here: Mary Barr Sampler Pattern PDF
or the paper chart here: Mary Barr 1828 Paper Chart