Swedish artist Hilma af Klint has been honoured with a major exhibition of some 200 of her paintings in Berlin.
Titled A Pioneer of Abstraction, it shows Klint as an innovator of 20th century abstract art, arguably several years ahead of Kandinsky Mondrian or Malevich – long considered trailblazers of the movement.
Museum director Udo Kittelmann said: “The works are unbelievably optimistic. They are full of light and hope. And we rarely find this in art, especially not in German art, which is often very dark and heavy. They are hopeful works, also for the 21st century.”
Hilma af Klint was born in Stockholm in 1862 and started painting as a young woman – mainly portraits and landscapes.
But she lived an artistic double life. In secret she painted large abstract pictures, inspired her spirituality, natural science and mathematics. When she died in 1944 her will stipulated that her abstract work should be kept secret for another 20 years.
Curator Iris Muller-Westermann said: “They could be made in the pop-era in the 60s. Or maybe even in the 1980s. They really don’t look like 100-year-old paintings.”
The show at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin runs until October, when it will transfer to Spain.