Expansive Catalog of Paintings by Hilma af Klint Is a Tribute To the Pioneering Artist

Hilma af Klint Catalogue Raisonne Bokförlaget Stolpe

“Svanen” (“The Swan”), by Hilma af Klint, No. 17, Group 9, Series SUW, October 1914-March 1915. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)
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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.

A new seven-volume catalog explores the pioneering abstract paintings of Hilm af Klint.

Hilma af Klint Catalogue Raisonne Bokförlaget Stolpe

The cover of a volume in the “Hilma Af Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII” set available from Bokförlaget Stolpe.

Klint created over 1,600 works which were not exhibited until 1986.

Hilma af Klint Catalogue Raisonne Bokförlaget Stolpe

Sample page from “Hilma Af Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII,” edited by Daniel Birnbaum and Kurt Almqvist.

With the release of Hilma Af Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII from Bokförlaget Stolpe, Klint can finally receive the acknowledgment she deserves among the pioneers of modern art.

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h/t: [Colossal, Open Culture]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and reading while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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