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Hilma af Klint & drawing at the V&A

Join OCA tutor Angela Rogers in London on the 30 April. We will visit Painting the Unseen an exhibition of work from Hilma af Klint at the Serpentine and following lunch we will head to the V&A for some afternoon sketching.
So why is Hilma af Klint attracting attention?
Although over 1,200 works were completed in the first decades of the 20th century they were not seen in public until 1986. These paintings, some over one hundred years old, some more than ten feet tall, with an unusual colour palette that delights the eye, are radical and mysterious. Af Klint’s abstraction dramatically explores colour and form and uses her own symbolic language to give shape to what is invisible.

The Ten Largest, Group IV, The Paintings for the Temple series, 1907
The Ten Largest, Group IV, The Paintings for the Temple series, 1907

The paintings were influenced by the scientific ideas of the time, especially evolutionary theory. They could be called cosmological or spiritual, but whatever label we give them they are paintings that attempt to reveal unseen worlds and it is this out of time quality that means they can speak to us now.
And was she the first abstract painter?
Hilma af Klint had an art school training that was available for women in Sweden at the time. She worked as a draughtswoman and painted from nature before she started to paint large-scale abstract works. This was well before the recognised pioneers of abstract art such as Vassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. Unlike the other abstractionists, af Klint kept her work secret during her lifetime because she felt the European Avant Garde would not understand her.
Svanen (The Swan), No. 17, Group IX, Series SUW, October 1914-March 1915
Svanen (The Swan), No. 17, Group IX,
Series SUW, October 1914-March 1915

She determined that her paintings should not be shown to the public until at least twenty years after her death. Over twenty years after the first showing in Los Angeles she was still missing from MoMA’s blockbuster show of 2012, Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925. But now, following a sell out show in her homeland Sweden, the Serpentine is putting on a major exhibition. We will be able to see for ourselves whether she was an outsider or a key figure in the history of abstract art?
Be sure to bring a sketchpad along as we head to the V&A to do some drawing following lunch and discussions.
Students can reserve their place by emailing enquiries@oca.ac.uk


Posted by author: Angela Rogers
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