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Hilma af Klint: Notes and Methods
Hilma af Klint: Notes and Methods

Hilma af Klint: Notes and Methods

University of Chicago Press

Regular price $45.00 Sale

Hilma af Klint: Notes and Methods


Swedish artist and Theosophic medium Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) was ahead of her time, and she knew it. Part of the first generation of women admitted to study at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, af Klint was part of a group of other female spiritual artists known as The Five. The group met regularly to commune with spirits and practice automatic writing and drawing. In 1906, the group was commissioned for a massive and most peculiar project by the High Masters, powerful spirits in the Theosophic religion. The work was to be a series of paintings for the ambiguous “Temple,” and The Five were asked to create the works through spiritual intervention. Four of The Five were skeptical of their ability to complete the project without falling into madness, and warned af Klint not to undertake the task alone. She ignored them. In Hilma af Klint: Notes and Methods, readers can find ten years of meticulous writings and sketches for the 193 pieces that amounted to one of the most unique and mysterious collections to grace our world. Af Klint dabbled in abstract expressionism long before the phrase entered our vernacular, and knew that the work would not be appreciated in her time. Upon her death, she stipulated to relatives that Paintings for the Temple must not be shared with the public for at least 20 years after her death. Although we cannot ask the intrepid artist herself, she left us enough excess material to better understand this otherworldly collection. This companion work includes new English translations of Klint’s writings, including her “Blue Notebooks,” and a dictionary of words and letters found in the series. Hilma af Klint: Notes and Methods is an exercise in process, to be scoured and interpreted alongside Paintings for the Temple by artists, philosophers, and the curious alike. 

"The remarkable, welcome thing about Burgin's Notes and Methods is that it lets af Klint speak for herself. . . . In book form, unified in size and material, and made intimate and flippable, the paintings reveal themselves differently than they do when hung on a wall and interrupted by architecture: they take on an overall rhythm, and the shifts between abstraction and figuration become fluid rather than clunky."-- "New York Review of Books"


"Presents comprehensive English translations of (af Klint's) enigmatic writings. . . . Bring(s) nuance to our understanding of the artist's biography and her formal achievements. . . . Taken together, the notebooks and paintings are evidence of a prodigiously curious mind, one riveted by the mathematical precision of geometry and also stirred by earthly and unearthly creatures."-- "Bookforum"


"What a remarkable intellectual and aesthetic feast it is! Multifaceted, rich in the history of both art and spirituality, the book presents the abstract work of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint. Klint is known for having produced abstract art many years in advance of the formal Abstract art movement. Notes and Methods not only reproduces her strikingly immersive artwork but also brings to life its unexpected spiritual underpinnings in the Theosophy movement."
-- "Publishers Weekly"

"The book broadens an understanding of af Klint's visual vocabulary from the late 1800s through the first two decades of the 1900s. The dominance of images provides the reader with the breadth of her artistic concerns and some of the underlying structures in her work. The book also expounds on af Klint's myriad interests in science, mathematics, esotericism, and mysticism. Art history is only now beginning to dig deeper into af Klint's life and work. This book and the Guggenheim Museum's exhibition catalog Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future(2018) will be the definitive texts on the artist for years to come."-- "Art Libraries Society of North America"

1.0" H x 10.1" L x 7.5" W (2.2 lbs) 288 pages. Hardcover