Discover Hilma af Klint Pioneering Mystical Painter and Perhaps the First Abstract Artist

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In a post last year, Colin Marshall wrote of the Swedish abstract painter Hilma af Klint, who “developed abstract imagery,” notes Sweden’s Moderna Museet, “several years before” contemporaries like Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and Kazimir Malevich. Much like Kandinsky, who articulated his theories in the treatise Concerning the Spiritual in Art, af Klint “assumed that there was a spiritual dimension to life and aimed at visualizing context beyond what the eye can see.” Influenced by spiritualism and theosophy, she “sought to understand and communicate the various dimensions of human existence.”

Born in 1862 and raised in the Swedish countryside, af Klint began her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm after her family relocated to the city. “After graduating and until 1908,” Moderna Museet writes, “she had a studio at Kungsträdgården in central Stockholm.

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She painted and exhibited portraits and landscapes in a naturalist style.” But as a result of her experiences in séances in the late 1870s, af Klint became interested in “invisible phenomena.”

In 1896, Hilma af Klint and four other women formed the group “De Fem” [The Five]. They made contact with “high masters” from another dimension, and made meticulous notes on their séances. This led to a definite change in Hilma af Klint’s art. She began practising automatic writing, which involves writing without consciously guiding the movement of the pen on the paper. She developed a form of automatic drawing, predating the surrealists by decades. Gradually, she eschewed her naturalist imagery, in an effort to free herself from her academic training. She embarked on an inward journey, into a world that is hidden from most people.

During one such séance, in 1904, af Klint reported that she had “received a ‘commission,’” Kate Kellaway writes at The Guardian, “from an entity named Amaliel who told her to paint on ‘an astral plane’ and represent the ‘immortal aspects of man.’”

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From 1906 to 1915, she produced 193 paintings, “an astonishing outpouring,” which she called “Paintings for the Temple.”

Hers is a strange story. Even in a time when many famous contemporaries, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, professed similar beliefs and spiritual practices, not many claimed to be taking dictation directly from spirits in their work. The question af Klint raises for art historians is whether she was “a quirky outsider” or “Europe’s first abstract painter, central to the history of abstract art.” Her mystical eccentricities constitute a large part of the reason she has remained obscure for so long. Rather than seek fame and acclaim for her originality, af Klint stipulated when she died in 1944 at age 81 that “her work—1,200 paintings, 100 texts and 26,000 pages of notes—should not be shown until 20 years after her death.”

Still, it took a further 22 years before her work was seen in public, at a 1986 Los Angeles show called “The Spiritual in Art.”

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While her peers developed large followings in their lifetimes and took part in influential movements, af Klint cultivated a private, insular world all her own, not unlike that of William Blake, who also remained mostly obscure during his life, though not necessarily by choice. Her choice to hide her work came out of an early encounter, Dangerous Minds notes, with Rudolf Steiner, “who was similarly following a path towards creating a synthesis between the scientific and the spiritual” and who told her “these paintings must not be seen for fifty years as no one would understand them.”

Now that af Klint’s work has been exhibited in full, most recently by the Moderna Museet, curators like Iris Müller-Westermann believe, as Kellawy notes, “that art-historical wrangles should not get in the way of work that needs to be seen.” Although af Klint may not have played an integral historical role in the development of abstract painting, her expansive body of work will likely inspire artists, scholars, and esoteric seekers for centuries to come.

 

Learn more about af Klint’s work at Moderna Museet, the Hilma af Klint Foundation website, The Art Story and Dangerous Minds.

By: Josh Jones 

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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By now, many people are familiar with the story of Swedish painter and occultist, Hilma af Klint (1862-1944). Subject of several major museum exhibitions—including most-attended-ever exhibits at the Guggenheim, New York and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm—her vibrant, innovative, and highly metaphysical paintings have firmly entered the public consciousness and are finally taking their place in 20th-century art history. Trained as a painter, she became a spiritualist and later received a commission from her spirit guides to complete a series of monumental artworks. In the process, she invented abstract art but was discouraged from continuing and ultimately worked in isolation—never sharing her spiritual works publicly in her lifetime—as result of sharp criticism from her male peers.

The $120,000 Banana Highlights The Elitism Of The Art World

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There’s a reason so many people find the art world to be impenetrable and elitist  – it’s designed to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting my local art gallery; it’s a great place to take the kids, and often, I discover beautiful and thought-provoking pieces. But sometimes, I feel downright frustrated by the works that have been chosen for inclusion.

A few years ago, I encountered a memorable piece of modern art – a scrunched up piece of A4 paper, lying on the floor, surrounded by a do-not-cross rectangle, presumably to ensure the janitors didn’t sweep the thing up after the gallery closed.

I watched, as gallery patrons came and went, most spending several minutes staring, contemplatively, at the scrunched-up paper. Nobody laughed; there was only deferential silence. Seeking guidance, I read the accompanying plaque, which said something about how the scrunched up paper was representative of the creative struggle.

Maybe it was. But it was still a scrunched up piece of paper. And to me, that piece was a perfect representation of the insular nature of the art world, the fact that an elite group of insiders can magically imbue a piece of paper with a massive amount of monetary and cultural value, merely by proclaiming it so.

Earlier this week, Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s creation, “Comedian,” a banana duct-taped to a wall, was sold for $120,000. A few days later, the banana was eaten by a local performance artist, David Datuna.

“Comedian,” however, lost none of its value – the eaten banana was soon replaced by another, equally ordinary banana, which inherited the monetary value of the previous banana, and was even deemed important enough to warrant police protection, in the event of another hungry performance artist.

“[Datuna] did not destroy the artwork. The banana is the idea,” Lucien Terras, a director at the gallery, told the Miami Herald. Perhaps the entire thing was staged, a publicity stunt, like Banksy shredding his own artwork, an act which only increased the value of said work.

“Comedian” seems to be a meta-commentary on the nature of value, perhaps mocking those with the authority to transform a piece of fruit into a small fortune. But even viewing the piece in that context seems to be giving the banana too much credit – questioning the valuation of art isn’t exactly an original idea. More than a hundred years ago, Marcel Duchamp turned an ordinary porcelain urinal into a famous piece of art, titled “Fountain.” I’ve seen a replica of the piece in my local gallery, and I even stared at it, contemplatively.

Of course, no one can tell you what is art, and what is not; there’s no official definition, no clear boundaries. If it moves you, you can call it art. If it doesn’t, and you want to call it art regardless, that’s fine. If art is anything, it’s subjective.

To the outsider, modern art often appears incomprehensible, and the belief that art somehow “peaked” decades, or even centuries ago, isn’t uncommon. Admittedly, it is easier to see the effort and skill behind a classical painting or sculpture than many modern, abstract installations. The context behind modern art isn’t always obvious. But then again, the fact that a banana can be sold for $120,000 is outright obscene.

Great art still exists, often outside of the major art institutions, in the small spaces, sold in stands and tiny galleries, untainted by the tsunami of money flowing through the mainstream.

But much of the art world, to me, resembles a niche internet subculture, a community of insiders, sharing memes that rarely leave the circle, memes which become progressively self-referential and abstract, until they evolve to the point that an outsider could never interpret them. To the outside world, the meme might be indecipherable nonsense, but to the community, it is imbued with meaning.

That’s the art world, but with one crucial difference – profit. Art is bought and sold for obscene amounts of money, the subjective value distorted by buyers and sellers, transformed into cold, hard cash. Personally, I find it hard to believe that art can even exist in such a space.

In fact, memes might be more representative of the human experience than many of the pricey pieces of modern art that fill galleries and auction houses. I’m deadly serious – memes might be silly, crude, forgettable, but they are never created for the purpose of profit (well, advertising companies generate memes too, but let’s exclude them, for the sake of my point).

Generally speaking, memes are created for creation’s sake, in the hope that others will like, share, or be inspired to customize the image, some created for no reason at all. Like a single frame of celluloid film, one meme can only hold so much meaning, but if viewed as a collective, in the context of the countless memes in which it shares its image or theme, the meme offers a more insightful look at the subconscious of modern humanity than a banana, duct-taped to a wall.

Or a scrunched up piece of paper, for that matter.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m fascinated by storytelling, in all its myriad forms; mythology, fairy tales, films, television, and urban legends

Source: The $120,000 Banana Highlights The Elitism Of The Art World

25+ Stunning Photos From Burning Man 2018 Give a Glimpse of Its Wild Creativity – Sara Barnes

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With Labor Day weekend past, the festivities of Burning Man now exist as memories for its temporary citizens. More than 70,000 people made their way to Black Rock City in the Nevada desert for the unique event this year. They were accompanied by incredible artwork and structures—adhering to the theme of I, Robot—designed by artists and architects from around the world. With the help of many volunteers, the larger-than-life pieces were a mixture of futurism and nostalgia, featuring strategically arranged shopping carts and characters from the Pac Man video game……..

Read more: https://mymodernmet.com/burning-man-2018-compilation/

 

 

 

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9 Bold & Powerful Women Who Shaped the Art World – Jessica Stewart

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While the art world has historically seen a gender imbalance, this doesn’t mean that there have not been important women working on the scene. Artists themselves often get highlighted, but many female art patrons past and present have helped shape the way we view art. In fact, history is littered with trailblazing women who have influenced art history thanks to their work as collectors, gallerists, patrons, and museum founders……

Read more: https://mymodernmet.com/influential-women-in-art

 

 

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25+ Blossoming Works of Art Made Out of Real Flowers – Kelly Richman-Abdou

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From still-life depictions to blooming landscapes, flowers have been a tried and true inspiration for nature-loving artists throughout the course of art history. In addition to traditional paintings and photographs, however, many of today’s artists have taken a more avant-garde approach to the floral craft by creating works of art made out of real flowers. As evident in this collection of flower art, there are a myriad ways that artists incorporate real-life blooms and blossoms into their practice. Some, like Duy Anh Nhan Duc and Marina Malinovaya, organize them onto flat surfaces to……..

Read more: https://mymodernmet.com/flower-art

 

 

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Photo Essay: A Staircase as Art — atmtx photo blog

Library Stairs – Austin, Texas As I was shooting around the new Austin Central Public Library, I became fascinated by the staircase that leads to the parking garage. Perhaps more than I should. But it was shiny, colorful and architectural. The hard geometry made it interesting, with a look that can change noticeably, just with […]

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The Horrible Inspiration Behind One of Picasso’s Great Works – Toby Saul

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Pablo Picasso had been searching for three months for something to paint in April 1937. Living in Paris, the Spanish artist had been given a commission to produce a mural for the Spanish Pavilion of the 1937 Paris World’s Fair. Turmoil had disrupted his process, both in his private life and in the civil war raging in Spain. The horror of this war would give Picasso his inspiration to paint a bold, unflinching vision of the devastation and savagery of modern warfare on everyday people. Picasso’s work, “Guernica,” is one of the 20th century’s greatest works of art and a strong statement against war…..

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George Harrison Explains Why Everyone Should Play the Ukulele – Josh Jones

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George Harrison loved the ukulele, and really, what’s not to love? For its dainty size, the uke can make a powerfully cheerful sound, and it’s an instrument both beginners and expert players can learn and easily carry around. As Harrison’s old friend Joe Brown remarked, “You can pick up a ukulele and anybody can learn to play a couple of tunes in a day or even a few hours.

And if you want to get good at it, there’s no end to what you can do.” Brown, once a star in his own right, met Harrison and the Beatles in 1962 and remembers being impressed with the fellow uke-lover Harrison’s range of musical tastes: “He loved music, not just rock and roll…. He’d go crackers, he’d phone me up and say ‘I’ve got this great record!’ and it would be Hoagy Charmichael and all this Hawaiian stuff he used to like. George was not a musical snob.”

“Crackers” may be the perfect word for Harrison’s uke-philia; he uses it himself in the adorable note above from 1999. “Everyone I know who is into the ukulele is ‘crackers,’” writes George, “you can’t play it and not laugh!” Harrison remained upbeat, even during his first cancer scare in 1997, the knife attack at his home in 1999, and the cancer relapse that eventually took his life in 2001.

The ukulele seemed a sweetly genuine expression of his hopeful attitude. And after Harrison’s death, it seemed to his friends the perfect way to memorialize him. Joe Brown closed the Harrison tribute concert at Royal Albert Hall with a uke version of “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” and Paul McCartney remembered his friend in 2009 by strumming “Something” on a ukulele at New York’s Citi Field.

In Hawaii, where Harrison owned a 150-acre retreat, and where he was known as Keoki, it’s said he bought ukuleles in batches and gave them away. The story may be legend, but it certainly sounds in character. He was a generous soul to the end. Just below, see Harrison strumming and whistling away in a home video made shortly before his death. You can hear the hoarseness in his voice from his throat cancer, but you won’t hear much sadness there, I think.

 

 

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Photography Christina & Ella — The Depth of Now By Martina Korkmaz

Photographing Christina and Ella in Ortakoy, Istanbul. With love, Martina

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Art and Craft — According To Hoyt

I’ve become a horrible person in my old age. And that goes way beyond falling asleep so hard that I slept through my alarm and left my poor long-suffering blog fans waiting for hours in vain. No, I’ve become one of those terrible people that Heinlein talks about who tell the unvarnished truth in social […]

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