Collection: Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings

Art Gallery of NSW

On View through September 19, 2021

The rediscovery of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint’s ‘secret paintings’, stored away and scarcely known about for decades, 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.

12 products
Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 7, Adulthood by Hilma af Klint
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Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 2, Childhood by Hilma af Klint
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Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece by Hilma af Klint
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Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 3 Youth by Hilma af Klint
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Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 1, Childhood by Hilma af Klint
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Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 9, Adulthood by Hilma af Klint
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Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 6, Adulthood by Hilma af Klint
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Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 8, Adulthood by Hilma af Klint
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Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 5, Adulthood by Hilma af Klint
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Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 4, Youth by Hilma af Klint
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Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 10, Old Age by Hilma af Klint
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Group IX/SUW, No. 23, The Swan by Hilma af Klint
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