Hilma af Klint: Painter and Revolutionary Mystic - Julia Voss and Claudia Tobin in conversation
Summer Term, sees the return of the Royal Drawing School's Creative Conversations; dialogues between artists, curators and writers. Curated by Dr Claudia Tobin, lectures are held Wednesday evenings either at the School or on Zoom.
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Hilma af Klint, 'The Ten Largest, no. 7, Adulthood', Tempera on paper mounted on canvas, 315 x 235 cm. © The Hilma af Klint Foundation, HaK 108.
The Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) was forty-four years old when she broke with the academic tradition in which she had been trained to produce a body of radical, abstract works the likes of which had never been seen before. Today, it is widely accepted that Af Klint was one of the earliest abstract academic painters in Europe. But this is only part of her story; not only was she a working female artist, she was also an avowed clairvoyant and mystic, thrilled by the newest developments in science, deeply concerned about social change and reforms, in exchange with spiritual forces, a passionate lover and futurist thinker. Af Klint even came to England once: in 1928 she travelled to London to exhibit her paintings at the “World Conference on Spiritual Science”, organised by the English branch of the Anthroposophical Society. Well before Kandinsky, Mondrian, and Malevich declared themselves the inventors of abstraction, Af Klint was working in a nonrepresentational mode, producing a powerful visual language that continues to speak to audiences today. The exhibition of her work in 2018 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York attracted more than 600,000 visitors, making it the most-attended show in the history of the institution. This in-conversation will explore Hilma af Klint's life and work with plenty of time for questions and comments from the audience.
Julia Voss is an art critic, art historian, and curator who lives and works in Berlin, Germany. She is curator at the German Historical Museum in Berlin and former arts editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. She is author of Hilma af Klint – Biography (2022) which was short-listed for the Non-Fiction Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair. She is curator of the exhibition Hilma af Klint and Vasily Kandinsky: Dreams of the Future which will open at Kunstsammlung NRW in Düsseldorf in 2024. Recent exhibitions include documenta: Politics and Art and 1938: Art, Artists, Politics. She has received the Sigmund Freud Prize for Academic Prose by the German Academy for Language and Literature and the Luise Büchner Prize for Journalism. She was fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin and the Lichtenberg Kolleg in Göttingen. She has a PhD in art history and is honorary professor for Art History at Leuphana University in Lüneburg.
Hilma af Klint, 'Altarpieces, Group X, No.1', 1915, Oil and metal leaf on canvas, 237,5 x 179,5 cm. © The Hilma af Klint Foundation, HaK 187.
Dr Claudia Tobin is a writer, curator, and art historian specialising in modern and contemporary literature and visual cultures. She has contributed to major exhibitions and projects at the National Portrait Gallery, London and Tate Gallery exploring the relationship between women writers and artists. Her recent book publications include a collection of Virginia Woolf's art writings, Oh, to be a Painter! (2021), and Modernism and Still Life: Artists, Writers, Dancers (2020). In collaboration with the Royal Drawing School, she co-edited Ways of Drawing: Artists’ Perspectives and Practices (2019). She teaches English literature and visual cultures at Cambridge University and is a Senior Research Associate at the Intellectual Forum, Jesus College Cambridge.
Cover image: (detail) Hilma af Klint, 'The Ten Largest, no. 7, Adulthood', Tempera on paper mounted on canvas, 315 x 235 cm. © The Hilma af Klint Foundation, HaK 108.
Please note this Summer Term some lectures will take place in-person at the School and some will take place online with Zoom. Please check the individual event listings for details.