I have a lot of feelings about the Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future exhibit currently showing at the Guggenheim in New York City.
A Lot Of Feelings!
Disappointment. That I didn’t realize this show was on until a few days ago, and so didn’t plan my schedule or budget in a way that I could make the show in person. Maybe I can see it next Spring, when it’s apparently coming to MOCA in Los Angeles (according to Moderna Museet at least, why can’t I find any evidence of this upcoming show anywhere else!)? ***UPDATE 17 January 2019: that link no longer mentions such a show either. It must have been a mistake 😦
Delight! That I discovered the show’s existence in time to pre-order the catalogue at a huge discount.
Anger. Of course the female artist who was one of the first abstract artists in the world was forgotten by history.
Hope. She may have been “unknown” during her lifetime, but that’s been changing since the ’80s, when her work was first made public via an international exhibitions… who else’s life’s work is still yet to be discovered? What might this teach us about the fluidity of history, and for those of us who attempt to document the past, humility at our inevitable inability to capture it all?
Curiosity. She kept her work hidden, stipulating that it not be shown for 20 years after her death. Depending on which account you read, there are different reasons for this. Why? How might her choice inspire, or at least inform, both my own choices, and my own feelings about how things go down in the world of women, work, and sharing our creativity and life’s work with audiences at all?
Confusion. Are all the paintings in the spiral gallery? How can this layout do justice to her massive pieces? Or maybe the bigger ones aren’t included in this exhibit? Or maybe those are being shown in the adjacent galleries?
I mean I’m no curator but I’ve been an enormous fan of Hilma af Klint since I first discovered her paintings twenty years ago, and in poring over the internet for photos of other exhibits, I discover that I react very strongly to how her work has been shown in the past. Some exhibits shove the works far too close together for my liking, for instance.
I love this particular juxtaposition:
And look how spectacularly they were presented in Berlin:
So yes, argh, I wish I’d known sooner so I might have made plans to visit New York while this show will be running. In the meantime, I’m imagining the opportunity to do this:
Or even this:
In the meantime, I will watch this:
…and hope that someone who understands everything I have written about above will physically attend the show in person and tell me all about their experience.