This new lilac-hued Hilma Af Klint coils into adulthood.


The Ten Largest, No. 6, Adulthood, Group IV by Hilma af Klint
10"x8" ($35) | 14"x11" ($75) | 20"x16" ($260) | 30"x24" ($1000) | 40"x30" ($1800)

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Don’t call it a comeback. Our fourth select from af Klint’s The Ten Largest series is an extension, an illumination, a excellent counterpart to any of our existing af Klint editions or a stunning solo statement. Like the subsequent piece in the series (also available as a limited-edition print!), The Ten Largest, No. 6, Adulthood, Group IV’s action takes place against a gauzy light lavender background. That background’s inconsistent texture contrasts af Klint’s sharp linework. The piece is as defined and enunciated as it is nebulous and elliptical—one of the persistent pleasures of all the creations in The Ten Largest.

As we’ve written before, the series as a whole is af Klint’s interpretation of the human life cycle, from early childhood to old age. Each painting is stacked with symbolism and colorful, absorbing abstractions:

At 10 feet high and 8 feet wide each, to experience these pieces in person renders one rather delirious. The immersive paintings engulf you in swaths of color, concentric circles, curves, and other shapes that seem to be unraveling in front of you. There are intimations of letters and numerals, botanical and biomorphic forms, fantasy figures, symbols, recurring motifs and meditative movement.


In No. 6, Adulthood, nested, overlapping, unfurling circular, droplet and shell-like shapes preside over the image. Some feel very independent, others inextricably linked, all of them connected on af Klint's canvas. The black form at center recalls a neopagan Triple Goddess Symbol, maybe meant to reorient the viewer in the larger idea of a life cycle af Klint was exploring. Dashed lines confuse our sense of space, implying the presence of multiple dimensions—seen, unseen and somewhere in between. Invented, spiraling letterforms and unrecognizable words drift across the lower half of the frame like unloosed lines from some mystically familiar but utterly unplaceable poem. All the details are part of af Klint’s visual dialect, one that’s complex and comprehensive, but beautifully inscrutable.

Af Klint’s abstract imagery is spellbinding and stylistically groundbreaking, enough to keep any observing art lover fully occupied. (Remember that her abstractions predated that of artists like Kandinsky and Mondrian—something the public didn’t learn until long after the fact, since af Klint literally wrote it into her will that her non-figurative paintings not be revealed until 20 years after her death.) But as 20x200 contributing writer Allison Meier pointed out, “to fully comprehend these works, it’s crucial to take af Klint’s spiritual appetite into consideration.” She goes on to say:

Af Klint and four other woman artists formed a group called “The Five” in 1896. Each Friday, they joined in prayers and New Testament readings as well as seances in which they engaged in automatic drawing and writing. Their extensive notes record interactions with beings they anointed “The High Ones.” Af Klint’s communication with these spirits as a medium led to her major works, Paintings for the Temple (completed between 1906 and 1915), and consequently The Ten Largest … Aesthetically, The Ten Largest is a powerful experience, the towering works drawing the viewer in with their jubilant shapes and colors, a dynamic reflection on the changes and growth across a life. Yet af Klint was working from a perspective of the spiritual and sacred, and the paintings are a visual language for attempting to make contact with something divine.


Even without a perfect understanding of af Klint’s opaque inner workings, looking at her paintings often feels like glimpsing the divine. Such is the power of her perhaps bizarre brilliance—you don’t need a blueprint to the mechanics behind her art to appreciate its genius, but the more you learn, the more your mind will be blown.

With art for everyone,
Team 20x200

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