This piece is the last in the adulthood section of Hilma af Klint’s The Ten Largest
paintings. Although it is filled with the symbols, scrolling letters, and geometric symbols that make up af Klint’s abstract language, it has a somewhat calmer energy than the previous three pieces. Af Klint undertook the series in response to what she believed was a commission from a higher being that she received in a vision. Each painting in the series is dedicated to one of the four stages of life: Childhood
and Old Age
, with the most paintings dedicated to adulthood (4 in total, as compared to 2 each for childhood and old age). Although they are over 3 metres tall, the artist completed the whole series in just 40 days.
Hilma af Klint
The Ten Largest, Group IV No. 8, Adulthood
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Tempera on paper, mounted on canvas 322 × 239 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.