Hilma af Klint, Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 7, Adulthood from untitled series - 1907.
Throughout her adult life, Hilma af Klint practiced a kind of transcendental spiritualism. This religious movement flourished in Europe and America, especially in literary and artistic circles, at the turn of the 20th century. It is based on the belief that spirits can communicate with the living. These communications were often pursued through séances, meetings in which people gathered to receive messages, whether directly or relayed through a medium, from the dead or other kinds of spirits. Af Klint started participating in séances as a teenager, in 1879.
During one such séance in 1906, the artist, who was 43 years old at the time, reported receiving a commission from a higher being. She claimed she had been asked to make paintings on a transcendent plane, which would one day be hung in a nearly circular temple specifically designed to house them. Over the next nine years, af Klint completed what she described as her “great commission,”1 which she referred to as The Paintings for the Temple. This mammoth series of 193 works encompasses several smaller thematic subsets. It includes af Klint’s earliest abstract works as well as the paintings on view in this gallery.
Af Klint intended this particular group of paintings, titled The Ten Largest, from 1907, to be hung together, much as they are here, in order to create what the artist describes as a “beautiful wall covering.” - Guggenheim