When Swedish artist Hilma af Klint died, in obscurity, in 1944, she left instructions that her work not be exhibited until twenty years after her death. Af Klint was hurt by the indifference of her contemporaries. She believed that future audiences might be more receptive to the abstraction and mysticism of her work.
More than seven decades passed before the Guggenheim staged a full retrospective and made her a star. new yorkers Art critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote, in his review of the 2018 show, that “something about [the art] it resonates with a mood of restless searching in today’s culture, hostile to old ideas. Af Klint attracts a lot of people’s attention.” The show became the most attended in the museum’s history.
“The Five Lives of Hilma af Klint, a debut graphic novel by Berlin-based artist and graphic designer Philipp Deins (published, perhaps ironically for the once commercially unappreciated af Klint, by David Zwirner Books, an offshoot of the super gallery), examines how he came to be. the art of Af Klint. about his seafaring ancestors, the disturbing loss of his younger sister, the prejudice he faced from the male artistic establishment, his romantic relationships with women, his travels, and his fascination with spiritualism and the occult. The book carefully grounds Klint, who is heralded these days as a visionary far ahead of her time, in the solid realities of her life. In the epilogue of the book, Julia Voss, Dein’s collaborator and wife, who is the author of her own af Klint Biography, he writes, “Hilma af Klint at the hotel. Hilma af Klint at the train station. On the train. Inside the studio. Or by the sea, on the cliff that she gave her family its name. . . . The more Philipp drew, the less isolated Hilma af Klint seemed to us.”
The following is excerpted from “The Five Lives of Hilma af Klint.”