In Hilma af Klint’s The Ten Largest
series of paintings, each piece is dedicated to one of the four stages of life: Childhood
and Old Age
. No.6 is the second painting to explore the theme of adulthood. Like its companion numbers 5, 7 and 8, it has a mauve coloured ground, but af Klint fills the piece with more scrolling words and letters, and uses black for the first time in the series. The botanical influenced abstract shapes, spirals and geometric imagery crowd the piece, which stands at over 3 metres tall. The series is part of the artist’s Paintings for the Temple
, which she believed was commissioned by a higher power.
Hilma af Klint
The Ten Largest, Group IV No. 6, Adulthood
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Tempera on paper, mounted on canvas 315 × 234 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.