This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

The Secret Mystical Paintings of International Art Sensation, Hilma af Klint

Art

When Hilma af Klint’s paintings emerged from storage after decades, they took the modern art world by storm. In 2019, The Guggenheim in New York held a survey show of the monumental works. The exhibition smashed the gallery’s attendance records. Enormous, colourful and infused with mysticism, these paintings, created as early as 1906, are widely believed to be some of the earliest examples of abstract art.

Since that exhibition, waves of love for the nearly-forgotten revolutionary artist has bubbled up around the world. On the back of this success, a juggernaut international exhibition of these works will finally make its first foray to the Asia Pacific when it opens in Sydney tomorrow. Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings will be on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until September. We cannot wait to see this truly unmissable show!

11th June, 2021

View of The Ten Larges on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings. Photo – Jenni Carter.

Group IV, The Ten Largest, No 2, ‘Childhood’. Courtesy of Hilma af Klint Foundation. Photo – The Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Group IV, The Ten Largest, No 3, ‘Youth’ by Hilma af Klint. Courtesy of Hilma af Klint Foundation. Photo – The Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Each painting in The Ten Larges is over three metres tall! Hilma af Klint: The Secret paintings will be on at AGNSW 12 June – 19 September, 2021. Photo – Jenni Carter.

Group IV, The Ten Largest, No 5, ‘Adulthood’, 1907 by Hilma af Klint. Courtesy of Hilma af Klint Foundation. Photo – The Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Hilma af Klint at her studio in Hamngatan 5, Stockholm, 1895. Photo courtesy of Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm.

Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future at the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York. Photo – David Heald.

Group IX/UW, ‘The Dove’, No 2, 1915 by Hilma af Klint. Courtesy of Hilma af Klint Foundation. Photo – The Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Group IV, The Ten Largest, No 7, ‘Adulthood’, 1907 by Hilma af Klint. Courtesy of Hilma af Klint Foundation. Photo – The Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Hilma af Klint was heavily involved in the mysticism and spiritual groups of the time. Her paintings are infused with this occult symbology. Photo – Jenni Carter.

Group X, ‘Altarpiece’ no 1, 1915 by Hilma af Klint. Courtesy of Hilma af Klint Foundation. Photo – The Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Group I, ‘Primordial Chaos, no 16, 1906-7 by Hilma af Klint. Courtesy of Hilma af Klint Foundation. Photo – The Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Sasha Gattermayr
Friday 11th June 2021

When Swedish modernist painter Hilma af Klint died in 1944, she left explicit instructions for her paintings to be kept in storage for two decades – believing that the world was not yet ready to see her vibrant, monumental canvases infused with intense spiritualism.

She was right. Her family rediscovered the trove of hidden works in the 1960s and offered it to the Stockholm Moderna Museet as a gift, which the institution rejected. It wasn’t until 2013 that the same museum would host the first retrospective of her work, and send shockwaves through the international art community.

After a record-breaking stint at the New York Guggenheim in 2019, the cult-status paintings will now make their way to the Asia Pacific for the first time. Opening tomorrow in Sydney, Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings brings together more than 120 works, including The Ten Larges – ten 3-metre tall canvases illustrating the stages of the human life cycle.

Hilma’s paintings radically re-draw the male-centric timelines of 20th century art history. Created as early as 1906, her epic works pre-date those of Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian who were widely considered the fathers of the modernist art movement.

A member of the avant-garde mystic movement, Hilma was also known for holding seances at her house, and investing deeply in the burgeoning spiritualism of the time. Her large abstract shapes are drawn from occult symbology, and contain messages about human life relayed from the spiritual world. Kooky and fabulous!

The exhibition will also include examples of her early watercolours and Primordial Chaos – a series of 26 works which marks Hilma’s first steps away from naturalism and towards revolutionary experiments with abstraction. The program will be accompanied by a screening of the new documentary, Beyond the Visible: Hilma af Klint; and a two-day symposium of online talks.

‘This exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover the extraordinary artistic achievements of an artist whose re-discovered work is now captivating audiences around the world and prompting museums to question art history narratives,’ says gallery director Dr Michael Brand.

‘Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings’ will open at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on 12 June and continue until 19 September. Tickets are on sale now.

This Week

Homes

An Owner-Designed Renovation Of A 1970s South Yarra Apartment

How designers Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen completely transformed their South Yarra apartment in just six months.

Studio Visit

Local Artist Hannah Maskell Creates Mesmerising Grids Of Colour

The Melbourne-based artist's geometric drawings and wooden sculptures are a cross between 'colour theory and colour therapy'.
Christina Karras

Food

Julia's Crunchy Crumbed Fish With Cos Salad + Yoghurt Tartare

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's delicious take on a classic summer fish dinner – on high rotation for the rest of the season!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Gardens

A Lush Secret Garden, Inside A Converted Melbourne Church!

This surprising garden in East Melbourne has its own lagoon pool, a natural fish pond and 10m-tall walls covered in ivy.
Christina Karras

Creative People

The New Small Business Making Mid-Century-Inspired Furniture In Australia

Culture Cush are making velvet-covered modular lounges inspired by retro designs, with the best materials of today!
Christina Karras

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Sustainable Homes

An Off-Grid, Modern Country Farmhouse In Regional Victoria

Step inside a newly built farmhouse that's fully off the grid, with all the classic features of an old country home.
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Boundless Garden Immersed In Native Bushland

A new coastal home on the Mornington Peninsula buried deep within a native grassy woodland, with stunning gardens by Plume Studio.

Architecture

An Unconventional Beach House Elevated On Steel

Steel beams elevate AB House by Office MI—JI to form an unconventional beach house in Barwon Heads.

Architecture

A Brazilian-Inspired Update Of A 1920s Brisbane Cottage

Bowen by Shaun Lockyer Architects elevates a 1920s cottage with a stunning renovation and addition.

Art

A Look Inside Abbey Rich's Mesmerising New Exhibition

See the Melbourne artist's beautifully bold abstract pieces at MARS Gallery, filled with playful patterns and hidden meanings.
Christina Karras

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Local Icons + TikTok Stars, Ginger And Carman

Get to know the fashionable, dynamic duo, whose fun-filled adventures (and inspiring approach to life) have made them Internet famous!
Christina Karras

Art

9 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2023!

From NGV's Alexander McQueen exhibition, to a showcase of Frida Kahlo's works, here are the must-see exhibitions of the coming year.
Christina Karras

Climate

Everything You Need To Know About GreenPower (+ Why You Should Make The Switch)

The easiest way to invest in in Australia's renewable future - and it's simpler (and cheaper) than you think!

Homes

A Quirky Redfern Terrace With A Hidden Green Roof

The unconventional family home of designer Sacha Coles, split over 4 levels!

Similar Stories

Art

A Look Inside Patricia Piccinini’s Epic New Exhibition At Flinders Street Ballroom

The world renowned artist takes us through 'A Miracle Constantly Repeated', her immersive new installation in one of Melbourne's most iconic...

Art

The Astounding Finalists Of The 100th Archibald Prize

Australia's highest portrait honour counts Grace Tame, Rachel Perkins, Del Kathryn Barton, Ben Quilty, Craig Foster and more amongst its pai...

Art

10 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2021!

From an immersive Mirka Mora survey to a record-breaking retrospective of Swedish visionary Hilma af Klint's lost artworks fresh from the Gu...

This Week

Homes

A Quirky Redfern Terrace With A Hidden Green Roof

The unconventional family home of designer Sacha Coles, split over 4 levels!

Art

A Look Inside Abbey Rich's Mesmerising New Exhibition

See the Melbourne artist's beautifully bold abstract pieces at MARS Gallery, filled with playful patterns and hidden meanings.
Christina Karras

Sustainable Homes

An Off-Grid, Modern Country Farmhouse In Regional Victoria

Step inside a newly built farmhouse that's fully off the grid, with all the classic features of an old country home.
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Brazilian-Inspired Update Of A 1920s Brisbane Cottage

Bowen by Shaun Lockyer Architects elevates a 1920s cottage with a stunning renovation and addition.

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Climate

Everything You Need To Know About GreenPower (+ Why You Should Make The Switch)

The easiest way to invest in in Australia's renewable future - and it's simpler (and cheaper) than you think!

Architecture

An Unconventional Beach House Elevated On Steel

Steel beams elevate AB House by Office MI—JI to form an unconventional beach house in Barwon Heads.

Homes

An Owner-Designed Renovation Of A 1970s South Yarra Apartment

How designers Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen completely transformed their South Yarra apartment in just six months.

Gardens

A Boundless Garden Immersed In Native Bushland

A new coastal home on the Mornington Peninsula buried deep within a native grassy woodland, with stunning gardens by Plume Studio.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Local Icons + TikTok Stars, Ginger And Carman

Get to know the fashionable, dynamic duo, whose fun-filled adventures (and inspiring approach to life) have made them Internet famous!
Christina Karras

Food

Julia's Crunchy Crumbed Fish With Cos Salad + Yoghurt Tartare

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's delicious take on a classic summer fish dinner – on high rotation for the rest of the season!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Art

9 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2023!

From NGV's Alexander McQueen exhibition, to a showcase of Frida Kahlo's works, here are the must-see exhibitions of the coming year.
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Lush Secret Garden, Inside A Converted Melbourne Church!

This surprising garden in East Melbourne has its own lagoon pool, a natural fish pond and 10m-tall walls covered in ivy.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Local Artist Hannah Maskell Creates Mesmerising Grids Of Colour

The Melbourne-based artist's geometric drawings and wooden sculptures are a cross between 'colour theory and colour therapy'.
Christina Karras

Creative People

The New Small Business Making Mid-Century-Inspired Furniture In Australia

Culture Cush are making velvet-covered modular lounges inspired by retro designs, with the best materials of today!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Art

A Look Inside Patricia Piccinini’s Epic New Exhibition At Flinders Street Ballroom

The world renowned artist takes us through 'A Miracle Constantly Repeated', her immersive new installation for RISING.

Art

The Astounding Finalists Of The 100th Archibald Prize

Now in its centenary year, 52 finalists have been announced for Australia's highest portrait honour.

Art

10 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2021!

From an immersive Mirka Mora survey to a record-breaking retrospective of Swedish visionary Hilma af Klint's lost artworks fresh from the Gu...

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net