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Hilma af Klint: An Unconventional Artist Who Paved the Way for Women Artists

Welcome back to the Arts to Hearts Project’s ‘Women From The Past Series’, a celebration of the inspiring lives of women artists from the past. Our mission is to remind all that if these incredible women could create and achieve with the limited resources and obstacles they faced, then so can we.

And This week, we will be shining a light on the extraordinary life of Hilma af Klint. She was a pioneering artist who challenged the status quo and pushed the boundaries of the art world with her bold and experimental works.

Read on because this article will explore her life, artistic style, and reasons why she kept her works hidden from public view and so much more about her remarkable life and the lessons we can take from it.

Hilma af Klint

The Inspiring Life of Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) was a Swedish artist and mystic whose abstract paintings are considered among the first of their kind in Western art history. She belonged to a group known as “The Five” which comprised of women inspired by Theosophy, who shared a belief in trying to contact the so-called “High Masters”. Her paintings were visual representations of complex spiritual ideas and, though they predate the work of Kandinsky, Malevich, and Mondrian, her works remain largely unknown and unrecognized.

This article will explore her life, artistic style, and reasons why she kept her works hidden from public view.

Early Life & Education of Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint was born on 26 October 1862 in Stockholm, Sweden. She had four sisters and two brothers, one of whom died in infancy. At age 19, she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts but was unable to study painting due to being denied access by the then-conservative academy due to her gender.

Instead, she studied sculpture with professor Carl Johan Fahlcrantz from 1882–1887 before going on to study portraiture with Per Olof Hallman from 1888–1889. Though she never obtained an official degree or diploma for these studies, this period laid the groundwork for her later success as an artist.

Hilma af klint
Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece, 1915

The Five & Her Artistic Style

In 1896 af Klint became part of an artist collective called “The Five” which consisted of five female artists—herself included—who were inspired by Theosophy and shared a belief in trying to contact spiritual masters through séances. Through this association af Klint began creating non-figurative works that appeared ahead of their time when compared with modern art movements such as Cubism or Surrealism.

Her work incorporated various symbols such as spirals or crosses that were meant to represent mystical concepts or higher planes of being; something that could not be described through words alone but rather had to be expressed visually through color, shape, and composition.

Hilma af klint
Group X, No. 2, Altarpiece, 1915

Concealing Her Work & Later Life

In 1908 af Klint withdrew from society and ceased exhibiting any publically; instead choosing to hide away her artwork until it could be properly understood by future generations.

It is believed that this decision was made out of fear that her radical approach would be rejected during her lifetime due to its controversial nature within traditional academic circles—a fear which ultimately proved true once some select pieces were exhibited after her death at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in 2013 where it ultimately gained critical acclaim around the world.

Hilma af Klint passed away on 21 October 1944 at age 81 without ever seeing any outside recognition for her groundbreaking artwork—something which has since been rectified posthumously thanks to increased interest from art historians in recent years.

Evolution, No. 13, Group VI, 1908

Abstract Paintings of Hilma af Klint

Hilma produced many abstract paintings between 1906-1915 that was heavily influenced by the occult sciences and spiritualism. These paintings sometimes featured intricate diagrams or symbols that represented complex spiritual concepts or energies; they also often featured bright colors and swirling geometric shapes that depicted different planes of existence. Despite the fact that her work was ahead of its time (predating Kandinsky’s abstract compositions), it largely went unrecognized until recently due to its unusual subject matter and themes.

Why Hilma Hid Her Paintings?

After completing over 200 large-scale abstract pieces between 1906-1915, Hilma chose not to show any of them during her lifetime; instead, she decided to store them away in secret until twenty years after her death when their contents could be truly appreciated without prejudice or resistance from society at large at the time.

Unfortunately, much of her work was lost following World War II when an air raid destroyed parts of Stockholm where some of these pieces were stored away safely; however many others have since been recovered thanks to dedicated researchers who tracked down clues left behind by Hilma before her death about where they could be located.

Group IX/UW, No. 25, The Dove, No. 1, 1915

Lesson From the Life of Hilma af Klint: Understanding Unconventional Artworks

Though the life story of Hilma af Klint may seem unique or outlier among other more traditionally accepted artistic styles at first glance – it serves as a reminder that art is ever-changing throughout history; what may start off seeming strange or off-putting can eventually become recognized within our collective culture as something beautiful and meaningful if given enough patience or appreciation from future generations down the line – no matter how unconventional it may appear initially.

So this was all from today’s women from the past series and if you are interested in learning more about the inspiring lives of women artists from the past then you will love our article about Angelica Kauffman, Mary Cassatt, and many more on our website.


These women have left a lasting legacy through their remarkable works of art. From their innovative use of form and color to their powerful messages, these women have used art as an outlet to share their stories and perspectives. They have paved the way for other women artists to thrive and create beautiful works of art.

So, if you’re looking for some inspiration and want to learn more about the inspiring lives of women artists from the past, then you’ve come to the right place. We’d love to hear from you if you have any favorite artists from the past that you would like us to feature. Just reach out to us at [email protected].

Until then, keep creating the magic that you do, and have a fantastic week ahead!

Image Source:

https://helenafrank.com/filter/copenhagen/Commissioned-portrait-Hilma-af-Klint-Swedish-heroines-Bokforlaget-Max

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilma_af_Klint

https://hilmaafklint.se/about-hilma-af-klint/

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