We’ve teamed up with the good folk at Modern Films to present an online screening of Beyond the Visible : Hilma af Klint, the first film about the life and work of the visionary abstract painter.
Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) was an abstract artist before the term existed: a visionary, trailblazing artist inspired by spiritualism, modern science and the riches of the natural world. As early as 1906, she was radically experimenting with abstract imagery, several years before Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, who are still regarded as the forerunners of 20th-century abstract art. Largely forgotten after her death, her sidelining from patriarchal art historical discourse has been the subject of much recent debate. With her radiant and transcendent body of work – featuring over 1,200 paintings and 26,000 notebooks – remaining hidden away for decades, a long-overdue rediscovery has come in recent years, with her stunning, large-scale works the subject of blockbuster exhibitions including a record-breaking retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2018-2019 and acclaimed exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery (2016) and Camden Arts Centre (2006) in the UK.
Beyond the Visible, directed by Halina Dyrschka, is the first film about Klint’s life and work, chronicling her pioneering artistic practice and mystical view of the world, from the beginning of her career at Stockholm’s Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, to her involvement in Theosophy, spiritualist and occult movements, including joining “The Five”, a group of female artists who conducted séances which lead to experiments with automatic writing and drawing, pre-dating the Surrealists by several decades.
A radical pioneer of an art that abandoned the depiction of visible reality, the artist opened doors to new horizons at the beginning of the twentieth century, even stipulating that her own work should not be shown for 20 years following her death, convinced the world was not yet ready to understand her art. Dissatisfied with af Klint’s absence from the art historical canon, Dyrschka’s film reveals the importance of the artist’s legacy, demanding a reevaluation of Modernism’s evolution and calling into question the broader conveniences of art history, how it is documented and for who’s benefit.
Interviewees in the film include Hilma af Klint’s relatives, including Ulla af Klint – wife of Hilma‘s nephew Erik Ulla, who met Klint in her early 20s in Stockholm, the footage of which is the only existing interview on film with someone who knew Hilma af Klint during her lifetime. Offering insights into her pioneering practice and the context of her legacy, commentary also comes from notable art world figures, including art critic and historian Julia Voss; acclaimed American sculptor Josiah McElheny; and leading Klint curator Iris Müller-Westermann, Director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm.