Hilma Af Klint

Liljevalchs Konsthall

ART HISTORY HAS NEVER BEEN about who got there first, but who took it to the bank first. The fact that Swedish painter Hilma af Klint was already fully immersed in automatic drawing by 1903, nineteen years before the Surrealists undertook what are generally considered by scholars to be the first automatist experiments, is hardly destined to plunge the History of Modern Art into a Reformation. Af Klint accepted that lesson on her own terms. She died at eighty-one in 1944 and left more than a thousand paintings and drawings to her family, with a stipulation that any public presentation of her work be withheld until twenty years after her death. Af Klint’s wishes were respected, and it was not until 1986 that a few pictures surfaced, in the LACMA exhibition “The Spiritual in Art, Abstract Painting 1895–1985.” And while it is true that her reputation in Sweden has been that of the adored but

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