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Hilma af Klint The Secret Paintings

Hilma exhibition artworks

Left to right: Hilma af Klint Group X, Altarpiece, no 1 1915 HaK187; Group IX/UW ; The dove No. 2 1915 HaK174. By courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation. Photos: The Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

Discover the visionary artist disrupting art history 

Hilma af Klint The Secret Paintings

12 June – 19 September 2021

Major exhibition gallery

Art Gallery of NSW

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Stored away and scarcely known for decades, the re-discovery of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint’s ‘secret paintings’ has taken the international art world by storm. Now her remarkable work is coming to Australia in the first survey of af Klint’s work to be shown in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Graduating with honours in 1887 from Stockholm’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, af Klint was recognised as a talented naturalistic painter but in 1906 chose to pursue a radically different path as an artist – one that was deeply engaged with spiritualism, with new developments in science and with the natural world. 

No one had created paintings like hers before – so monumental in scale, with such radiant colour combinations, enigmatic symbols and other-worldly shapes. In an era of limited creative freedom for women, her paintings became an outlet for her exceptional intelligence, spiritual quest and ground-breaking artistic vision. 

Believing that viewers of her time were not ready for what she had created, af Klint left instructions that her work should be kept secret for at least 20 years after her death in 1944. It wasn’t until 2013 that the first museum retrospective of her work was held at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet. 

Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings features The Ten Largest (1907) - her celebrated series of paintings, each over 3 metres high – part of the cycle of work that she considered her most important, The Paintings for the Temple (1906-1915).  

The exhibition also shines a light on her early botanical studies, experimental drawings made with the spiritualist group The Five, and a large selection of abstract watercolours, several of which have never before been placed on public view. A selection of af Klint’s notebooks gives fascinating insights into her influences and processes. 

This exhibition is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW and presented with the cooperation of The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm in association with Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. 

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint (Sweden 1862–1944) Group IV, The ten largest, no 7, adulthood 1907. tempera on paper mounted on canvas, 315 x 235 cm. Courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation HaK108. Photo: The Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden 79110

Hilma af Klint The Ten Largest, Group IV, No. 3, Youth 1907

Hilma af Klint (Sweden 1862–1944) Group IV, The ten largest, no 3, youth 1907. tempera on paper mounted on canvas, 321 x 240 cm. Courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation HaK104. Photo: The Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden 79106

Hilma af Klint The Dove, Group IX/UW, No. 4 1915 HAK176. By courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation. Photo: The Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

Hilma af Klint (Sweden 1862–1944) Group IX/UW, The dove, no 4 1915. oil on canvas, 152.5 x 115.5 cm. Courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation HaK176. Photo: The Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden 79129

Hilma af Klint (Sweden 1862–1944) Group IX/SUW, The swan, no 1 1914–15 oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm. Courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation HaK149. Photo: The Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden 79114

Hilma af Klint (Sweden 1862–1944) Group IX/SUW, The swan, no 1 1914–15 oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm. Courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation HaK149. Photo: The Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden 79114

Hilma af Klint (Sweden 1862–1944) Group IX/SUW, The swan, no 12 1915. oil on canvas, 151.5 x 151 cm. Courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation HaK160. Photo: The Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden 79120

Hilma af Klint (Sweden 1862–1944) Group IX/SUW, The swan, no 12 1915. oil on canvas, 151.5 x 151 cm. Courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation HaK160. Photo: The Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden 79120

Note: This display includes works that are protected under the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013. More information

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In association with the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne