Hilma af Klimt: Tree of Knowledge
“Revelatory and sublime. . . . Her work remains conceptually open enough for viewers to draw their own conclusions, insert their own meaning and feel transported to other glorious worlds.” —The New York Times
One of the most inventive artists of the twentieth century, af Klint was a pioneer of abstraction. Her first forays into nonobjective painting preceded the work of Kandinsky and Mondrian and radically mined the fields of science and religion. Deeply interested in spiritualism and philosophy, af Klint developed an iconography that explores esoteric concepts in metaphysics, as demonstrated in Tree of Knowledge. This rarely seen series of works on paper renders orbital, enigmatic forms, visual allegories of unification and separateness, darkness and light, beginning and end, life and death, and spirit and matter.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition Hilma af Klint: Tree of Knowledge at David Zwirner, New York, in 2021 and David Zwirner, London, in 2022, this book features a text by the art historian Susan Aberth examining af Klint’s spiritual and theosophical influences. With a conversation between curator Helen Molesworth and the US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo discussing connections between Tree of Knowledge and Native theories, the publication broadens the scope of philosophical interpretations of af Klint's timeless work. Also included is a newly commissioned essay by the celebrated af Klint scholar Julia Voss, a contribution by the artist Suzan Frecon, and a text by art historian Max Rosenberg that further develops the conversation around why af Klint’s work was not recognized in its tim