Among the pioneers of abstract art were Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Josef Albers. However, there is an oft-forgotten painter who was among the first to use non-representational forms and shapes to express complex ideas. Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862 – 1944) began painting in the style in 1906, several years before her male contemporaries. In an effort to bring together the expansive works of this revolutionary painter, Swedish publisher Bokförlaget Stolpe has crafted a catalogue raisonné edited by Daniel Birnbaum and Kurt Almqvist called Hilma Af Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII.
“What makes her art interesting is that the works are highly interconnected,” Birnbaum said of Klint's work. “A catalogue raisonné is necessary in order to see the different cycles, motifs, and symbols that recur in a fascinating way.”
Klint was a prolific artist who created over 1,600 works during her lifetime. Featuring bold shapes and bright colors, her abstract paintings were often spiritual in nature. Few viewed these paintings during her career; only her group of friends with whom she performed seances got to see them. Her works would not be formally exhibited until 1986—over two decades after her death in 1944.
Klint's paintings are exceptional for many reasons. Aside from the technical skill and large size of her pieces, Klint began her abstract work at age 44. Perhaps rooted in her earlier surrealist drawings, Klint's paintings pre-date the pure abstraction of famous male artists such as Kandinsky. Due to the frequent eclipsing of female creatives in the history books, Klint's works remain less well known today—even after exhibitions.
In the past few years, Klint has finally begun to receive the attention her work has long deserved. Both chronological and thematic, Hilma Af Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII is available for pre-order on Bookshop.org. The first three volumes are also currently for sale.