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

2.02

Art en Route

A Visit to the Blue Mountains with Jono Fleming, and Ford Puma

Sydney stylist Jono Fleming is our tour guide for a dreamy day trip to the Blue Mountains, in the new Ford Puma!

Homes

An Interior Designer’s Mini Converted Warehouse That Feels Like Home

In past lives, this little converted warehouse in Fitzroy has been a secret bar and a photographic studio. Now, it’s the charming rental h...

Interiors

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Interior Designer

What does an interior designer do, and how much does a residential project cost? Here's everything you need to know, with info from leading

Shopping

Seven Local Kids Design Brands We Can’t Get Enough Of!

Seven of our favourite local kids brands, and where to find them!

Interiors

A Peaceful, Pastel Transformation Of A Petite Art Deco Apartment

Rosanna Ceravolo creates a new, sympathetic interior personality for a two-bedroom flat in the leafy suburb of South Yarra.

Architecture

A Dessert-Inspired ‘60s Home Makeover!

From banana Paddle Pop yellow, to chocolatey timber, this 1960s home makeover by Wowowa brings colour and personality to this mid century ho...

News

Laminex Extend Their Epic Colour Collection With These On-Trend Hues

The heritage Australian company adds seventeen new ‘decors’ to its offering, including warm earthy shades, stone-look textures + woodgra...
Sponsored

Architecture

An Architect’s Reworking Of Sir Roy Grounds’ Former Balmain Home

A heritage 1970s house in Balmain once owned by Sir Roy Grounds has been its re-engineered by its present owner, architect Conrad Johnston o...

News

Cute Handmade Aprons For Tiny Chefs!

Little Linens sell patterned aprons designed, printed and hand-sewn from a kitchen table in Melbourne!
Sasha Aarons

Gardens

Three Trees + A Pool - The Love Story Of A Wild-Looking, Natural Garden

Mcnuttndorff Landscapes tamed this rambling Fairfield garden around a new pool and three majestic eucalypts!

Shopping

The Aboriginal-Owned Homewares Brand Bringing First Nations Art To Homes + Classrooms Across Australia!

Bundjalung/Minjungbal woman Emma Rolls of Emro Designs shares her collection of rugs, cushions and soon-to-be-released picnic mats featuring...

Creative People

Andalusian-Inspired Lampshades, Handwoven In Sydney

Lana Launay makes her textured light covers from natural materials such as coffee-stained raffia, coconut shell rope and bamboo yarn.

Gardens

A Vacant Cow Paddock Turned Relaxed Australian Country Garden

Weeds and camphor are replaced by lush natives, a veggie garden and a hilltop plunge pool in this country garden by Fig Landscapes.

Architecture

A Bushy Family Home That Brings The Outdoors In

You'd never know that this clever home by Anthrosite Architects shields its occupants from a busy motorway on one side of the house.

Architecture

An Architecture Power Couple’s Extraordinary Concrete Home

Inside 'La Scala’ – the contemporary, concrete Brisbane home of architects Ingrid Richards and Adrian Spence, co-founders of Richards an...

View Comments

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

An Interior Designer’s Mini Converted Warehouse That Feels Like Home

In past lives, this little converted warehouse in Fitzroy has been a secret bar and a photographic studio. Now, it’s the charming rental h...

News

Laminex Extend Their Epic Colour Collection With These On-Trend Hues

The heritage Australian company adds seventeen new ‘decors’ to its offering, including warm earthy shades, stone-look textures + woodgra...
Sponsored
2.02

Art en Route

A Visit to the Blue Mountains with Jono Fleming, and Ford Puma

Sydney stylist Jono Fleming is our tour guide for a dreamy day trip to the Blue Mountains, in the new Ford Puma!

Interiors

A Peaceful, Pastel Transformation Of A Petite Art Deco Apartment

Rosanna Ceravolo creates a new, sympathetic interior personality for a two-bedroom flat in the leafy suburb of South Yarra.

Gardens

A Vacant Cow Paddock Turned Relaxed Australian Country Garden

Weeds and camphor are replaced by lush natives, a veggie garden and a hilltop plunge pool in this country garden by Fig Landscapes.

Architecture

An Architecture Power Couple’s Extraordinary Concrete Home

Inside 'La Scala’ – the contemporary, concrete Brisbane home of architects Ingrid Richards and Adrian Spence, co-founders of Richards an...

Shopping

Seven Local Kids Design Brands We Can’t Get Enough Of!

Seven of our favourite local kids brands, and where to find them!

Architecture

An Architect’s Reworking Of Sir Roy Grounds’ Former Balmain Home

A heritage 1970s house in Balmain once owned by Sir Roy Grounds has been its re-engineered by its present owner, architect Conrad Johnston o...

Shopping

The Aboriginal-Owned Homewares Brand Bringing First Nations Art To Homes + Classrooms Across Australia!

Bundjalung/Minjungbal woman Emma Rolls of Emro Designs shares her collection of rugs, cushions and soon-to-be-released picnic mats featuring...

Gardens

Three Trees + A Pool - The Love Story Of A Wild-Looking, Natural Garden

Mcnuttndorff Landscapes tamed this rambling Fairfield garden around a new pool and three majestic eucalypts!

Architecture

A Dessert-Inspired ‘60s Home Makeover!

From banana Paddle Pop yellow, to chocolatey timber, this 1960s home makeover by Wowowa brings colour and personality to this mid century ho...

Creative People

Andalusian-Inspired Lampshades, Handwoven In Sydney

Lana Launay makes her textured light covers from natural materials such as coffee-stained raffia, coconut shell rope and bamboo yarn.

News

Cute Handmade Aprons For Tiny Chefs!

Little Linens sell patterned aprons designed, printed and hand-sewn from a kitchen table in Melbourne!
Sasha Aarons

Interiors

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Interior Designer

What does an interior designer do, and how much does a residential project cost? Here's everything you need to know, with info from leading

Architecture

A Bushy Family Home That Brings The Outdoors In

You'd never know that this clever home by Anthrosite Architects shields its occupants from a busy motorway on one side of the house.

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.