I had very little knowledge of Hilma af Klint, the female artist who invented abstract art, until I finally watched "Beyond the Visible", a documentary about the artist.
I took Art History 101 in the mid-nineties (a long time ago), so I'm quite sure she was still minimized back then, because I don't recall any discussion of her. Much of what I learned in school is hazy, but I think I would recall it if my professor had announced that the inventor of abstract art was a woman! It has only been in recent years that I've heard her name come up frequently enough to make me curious. Are we surprised that art historians have (until recently) overlooked the contributions of a remarkable woman? Not really.
But I digress. The real reason for this blog post is to tell you my impression of how Hilma af Klint approached making a painting and how it struck me how similar it is to the way I work.
When I'm painting, I am not trying to portray anything as much as examine it and demystify it for myself. I collect impressions and feelings and try to make sense of it in a visual medium, using color and line. I think Hilma af Klint made her abstracts for the same reason. She was tuned into something and wanted to translate it in the only way she know how, through art.
Although she would have liked them to be well received in her lifetime, Hilma af Klint knew her paintings were too "out there" to be accepted. Even so, she valued her own work and made sure they were kept together and in good hands until the world was ready for them. Basically, she was a badass. Maybe a little kooky too, but if artists can't be eccentric, who can be?
Hilma af Klint died in 1944 at the age of 81 in Sweden. It's worth taking a deep dive into Hilma af Klint's work, or just watching the documentary about her life.