I received link to this article about Swedish artist Hilma af Klint a while ago, and I think it’s worth a little promotion. Quote:
‘Af Klint belonged to a group of women artists, known as “The Five,” who claimed to channel artistic visions directly from “High Masters” in another dimension. The Liljevalchs exhibition makes clear that from 1907 to 1915 af Klint claimed to be making paintings commissioned by her invisible leaders, pictures that stood as automatic transcriptions of their spiritual and esoteric messages taken down while she was untethered from consciousness. Her theoretical anchor was Rudolf Steiner, the mystic philosopher and founder of Anthroposophy, a heady metaphysical cocktail of Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Christianity, and the writings of Plato and Goethe. Steiner, also an influence on the early work of Kandinsky and Mondrian, professed to have clairvoyant visions and to see ancient events embossed on the cosmic ether. Af Klint’s conviction that she was in synch with Steiner helped insulate her even further from the mainstream of modern art at the turn of the last century.’ Read!
I was also made aware of this review in The Guardian, written when af Klint’s artworks were exhibited in London a few years ago. Quote:
‘In some respects, the world never will be ready for the occult symbolism and spiritualist gibberish that her work was derived from, and from which she gained her inspiration. Although the same peculiar beliefs attend the work of pioneering artists such as Mondrian, Kandinsky and Malevich, they never suggested, as did Af Klint, that their work was guided by an imaginary “leader in the spiritual world”. For Af Klint, this was a certain Ananda, who in 1904 told her “she was to execute paintings on the astral plane”.’
‘In many ways, even her most abstract paintings are diagrams and abstractions from ideas – not wholly abstract, more representations of elements of an unseen world, and of invisible forces. Her art also moved backwards and forwards between the apparently abstract and the embarrassingly kitsch. She was unable to paint convincing figures, astral or otherwise. [. . .] We might see Af Klint’s art and her whole life struggle as symptomatic of an age, a culture and the peculiarities of her psychological and emotional make up. A century ago, the occult, spiritualism and in particular the theosophical teachings of Madame Blavatsky were all the rage.’ Read!