Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim museum is presenting the first major solo US exhibition of the groundbreaking work of Hilma af Klint, titled “Paintings of the Future”. Although created in the early part of 20th century, this work remained virtually unrecognized until 1986. These paintings made between 1906 and 1915 are now considered paradigm changing so the first non representational totally abstract work of the Western world. The artist felt her art was too radical for her contemporaries so she did  to want them shown until twenty years after her death.
Although her art was based and generated by af Klint’s spiritual practice, the paintings depict geometric phenomenon.
This large painting is “No.17 Group IX/SUW, The Swan ” from 1915. It shows a circle bifurcated through the vertical center line. The left hand side consists of two layers an outer white layer and an inner black core. The right hand side in contrast has three concentric layers of bright colors.
This concentric theme has been examined many artists years later.
“No 22 Group IX /SUW, The Swan” also from 1915, examines the concept of a cube projected on the 2-D plane. Dividing the square canvas with guide lines one through the center vertically, and two horizontal lines. These horizontal lines are located a distance away from the top and bottom of the canvas of 1/4 of the length of each side. This configuration creates two squares in the center of the work to build the isosceles triangles and rhombi to create the illusion of the cube and it’s interior space.
This exhibition is really a major development in the art world. The well deserved recognition of  Hilda af Klint is finally receiving, requires art history to make adjustments to both it’s time line and credit for the development of abstract painting. As someone interested in abstract geometric paintings for a long time, as I walked up the spirals of the Guggenheim Museum I kept thinking about these painting that I was seeing for the first time, “where have you been all of my life?”
Susan Happersett
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“Expanding Abstraction: New England Women Painters, 1950 To Now” at the De Cordova Museum.

One of the more interesting Summer exhibitions that I visited this year (open till mid September) is this show at the De Cordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Many of the paintings on display feature mathematical themes. Geometry was a popular subject for abstract artists in the 1970’s. Maude Morgan and Terri Priest both incorporate geometric principles in their work.

Maude Morgan , “Gold Coast II” , 1971
Picture courtesy of the De Cordova Museum

Maude Morgan painting “Gold Coast II” features bright squares in the center of the canvas that pulsate against the background. In the lower left corner there is series of striking turquoise rectangles.

Terri Priest’, “Panoply, Summer Evening”, 1976
Picture courtesy of the De Cordova Museum

Terri Priest’s “Panoply, Summer Evening” from 1976 utilizes vertical parallel lines to create a surface that is broken by a few loose orange lines running slightly off the diagonal.

This exhibit also showcases more contemporary art.

Reese Inman, “Stinglattice II”, 2006
Picture courtesy of the De Cordova Museum

Reese Inman’s “Stinglattice II” from 2006. With experience as a computer programmer, Priest uses algorithms and a computer print-out plan for each of the colors within the grid. She then hand-paints each dot onto the canvas.

The art on display spans six decades, demonstrating the many styles and themes that fall under the umbrella of abstract painting. Mathematical influences appear throughout this history.

 

Susan Happersett