As soon as Cristina told us about it, I watched Beyond the Visible, the documentary about Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944). I make it a rule not to sleep on anything Cristina recommends!
I have many feelings.
The petty: irritation with myself for missing the Hilma af Klint exhibit at the Guggenheim in 2018-2019. I heard so much about it at the time, and knew I’d love it, but never got there. (It is across town, Kay. Less than one mile. Gosh!)
The angry: Rudolf Steiner has a lot to answer for. As does Wassily Kandinsky. OK, let’s just say it: men. In her lifetime, the artist had connections to the art world that could have let her work be seen. Men—men who clearly knew or should have known the worth of what she was doing—dismissed it, and there was no appeal of that slammed door. I’m kind of sick of this story.
But my biggest feeling is wonderment at af Klint’s work, mind, and character.
This film gives a great sense of all of this, and everything is beautifully and sensitively photographed.
Bonus for textile lovers: art historian and af Klint biographer Julia Voss wears two remarkable garments for her interviews. If anybody on here knows her, please find out more! I think there’s a good chance she knits or sews.
And before everyone says this in the comments: yes, it’s not easy to knit to this film. Some of the speakers speak English, but between the Swedish and the German there are a lot of subtitles to read, and then there’s all the paintings, and notebooks, and photographs, to hold one’s gaze. I managed to get in quite a few rounds on my Main Squeeze Pullover, though. I can knit and k1, p1 without looking, and the Lapis shade of Atlas made me feel at one with the gorgeous blues in af Klint’s big paintings.
You can watch the full documentary for free through the YouTube link up top.
P.S. If, like me, you become a Hilma af Klint super fan after watching this documentary, you’ll be delighted to learn of the exhibition book Hilma af Klint: Painting for the Future, the new graphic novel version of her biography (graphic biography?)—and also that Julia Voss’s Instagram handle is @spiraltemple.