The elusive Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), the subject of a new exhibition at London’s Serpentine Galleries, is finally bursting into the limelight. The artist, today considered a pioneer of abstract art, was an obscure figure in the art world until very recently.
But this was partly of the artist’s own doing – she herself stipulated that her abstract work should be kept out of the public eye for two decades after she died, out of fear that she would be misunderstood. Indeed, it was not until the mid-1980s that her works were seen publicly.
Moreover, whether through geographical distance or deliberate intent – she had little to do with other artists working at around the same time, and who had similar preoccupations to her. Even though she worked at the same time as well-known abstract artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian, she worked in isolation from the European avant-garde.
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Photo: From The Ten Largest , 1907, by Hilma af Klint and courtesy of Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk and the Serpentine Gallery.