Each piece in Hilma af Klint’s The Ten Largest
group of paintings explores one of the four stages of life: Childhood
and Old Age
. The artworks are huge in scale, with all ten measuring over three metres tall. This piece is the third in the series, and is dedicated to youth. Both of the paintings exploring this stage of life have bright orange grounds, and the vivid colours and repeated spiral motifs combine to fill the piece with a sense of energy and movement. Hilma af Klint believed that a spirit commissioned her to create the works, and it was the artist’s intention was for all ten of the pieces to hang together, in a circular arrangement.
Hilma af Klint
The Ten Largest, Group IV No. 3, Youth
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Tempera on paper, mounted on canvas 321 × 240 cm Hilma af Klint Foundation
Hilma af Klint (1862 – 1944) was a Swedish artist, considered to be the first abstract artist in Western art history. Talented in mathematics and botany, she studied painting at Tekniska skolan in Stockholm, and then the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. She initially painted landscapes, portraits and botanical illustrations, but from 1906 she began creating large scale abstract artworks as part of her explorations of theosophy and spiritualism. Believing herself to be guided by a higher power when creating these radically abstract works, she did not exhibit them in her lifetime, and left instructions for them not to be shown until two decades after her death. She is now recognized as a pioneer in abstraction, predating the works of Malevich, Kandinsky and Mondrian.