Hilma af Klint conducted séances, communed with spirits, and founded abstraction long before her male contemporaries would take credit for it, a new exhibition reveals.
Who? A female painter, a pioneer of abstract art, a spiritualist and a dedicated believer in the occult: Swedish artist Hilma af Klint was nothing if not before her time. To the outside world, she spent her life creating a series of unexciting portrait and landscape paintings which challenged neither her own talent, nor the academy, working out of a Stockholm studio next door to the Swedish Association of Painters. By night, however, she conducted séances as part of a secret assembly of five woman painters who named themselves 'The Five,' taking commissions from a spirit she named Amaliel, one of her so-called ‘High Masters’, and seeking oneness of the soul in the colour green. Perhaps most extraordinarily of all, Af Klint experimented in, and ultimately founded, the geometric and colourful abstraction that would be attributed to male founders Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich many years later....