It was autumn 1907 when the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) began the first canvas in a series that would come to be known as “The Ten Largest”. Working on these ten paintings over a period of just 40 days, the result she produced is one of the most monumental legacies of her artistic output. The series is part of a larger collection known as “Paintings for the Temple”, a mammoth project that the artist had embarked upon two years earlier after experiencing non-verbal cues from the spirit world. The challenge of understanding these messages and finding a visual expression for an invisible reality was to preoccupy Hilma af Klint throughout the rest of her life.
For many years the artist kept the paintings hidden until such time as the world might be ready to appreciate them. Now, more than a century later, Hilma af Klint’s works are receiving accolades across the globe.
Evolution and spirit worlds
The sheer size of “The Ten Largest” sets them apart from the artist’s other works. In a gigantic 3.28×2.40 metre format, Hilma af Klint celebrates the four ages of humanity: Childhood, Youth, Adulthood and Old Age.
A central theme in “The Ten Largest”, as in the artist’s oeuvre as a whole, is the notion of evolution. Hilma af Klint, however, seems less concerned about evolution in terms of any physical development from one form of existence to another, and focuses instead on evolution on a spiritual plane.
This reflects an interest in spirituality and theosophy that she shared with many of her contemporaries.
First time since 2013
Thanks to the close collaboration between Moderna Museet and the Hilma af Klint Foundation, in autumn 2022 visitors to the Museum can renew their acquaintance with “The Ten Largest” by Hilma af Klint, showing in Stockholm for the first time since 2013.
The exhibition also includes a selection of watercolours and a collection of hand-coloured photographs that has never previously been on public display in its entirety.