By now, many people are familiar with the story of Swedish painter and occultist, Hilma af Klint (1862-1944). Subject of several major museum exhibitions—including most-attended-ever exhibits at the Guggenheim, New York and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm—her vibrant, innovative, and highly metaphysical paintings have firmly entered the public consciousness and are finally taking their place in 20th-century art history. Trained as a painter, she became a spiritualist and later received a commission from her spirit guides to complete a series of monumental artworks. In the process, she invented abstract art but was discouraged from continuing and ultimately worked in isolation—never sharing her spiritual works publicly in her lifetime—as result of sharp criticism from her male peers.
Is this the real story of Hilma af Klint?
Artist, educator, and theosophical researcher Michael Carter, MFA will discuss af Klint’s biography and the parallel development of her artwork in relation to turn-of-the-20th-century esoteric spiritual societies. Carter will address her involvement in the Spiritualist, Theosophical, and Anthroposophical movements and her fateful meeting with Rudolph Steiner. He will reveal the influence of specific esoteric doctrines and concepts in af Klint’s most well-known artworks. Additionally, he will illuminate little-known connections to Southern California and the Philosophical Research Society itself. In total, he will create a space for a more authentic understanding of af Klint to emerge.
Michael Carter received his MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 2010. His work is an inquiry into metaphysical theories of art and has been exhibited extensively locally and abroad, including recent exhibitions in Denmark and Romania. He has studied Blavatskean theosophy for more than a decade.