Hilma Klint altar-painting-1915
Hilma af Klint (October 26, 1862– October 21, 1944) was a Swedish artist and mystic whose paintings were amongst the first abstract art. She belonged to a group called “The Five” and the paintings or diagrams were a visual representation of complex philosophical ideas.
Spiritual and philosophical ideas
The project on which “the Five” were engaged involved, in 1892, recording in a book a completely new system of mystical thought in the form of messages from higher spirits. One, Gregor, spoke thus: “all the knowledge that is not of the senses, not of the intellect, not of the heart but is the property that exclusively belongs to the deepest aspect of your being…the knowledge of your spirit”.
It is interesting to note that af Klint’s work ran parallel to the development of abstract art by other artists such as Mondrian, Malevich and Kandinsky who were, like af Klint, inspired by the Theosophical Movement founded by Madame Blavatsky. Af Klint’s work can also be seen in the wider context of the modernist search for new forms in artistic, spiritual, political and scientific systems in the beginnings of the 20th century.
The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has (as of 2011) several successors.
The Hidden Masters
One of the central philosophical tenets promoted by the Society was the complex doctrine of The Intelligent Evolution of All Existence, occurring on a Cosmic scale, incorporating both the physical and non-physical aspects of the known and unknown Universe, and affecting all of its constituent parts regardless of apparent size or importance. The theory was originally promulgated in the Secret Doctrine, the 1888 magnum opus of Helena Blavatsky. According to this view, Humanity’s evolution on Earth (and beyond) is part of the overall Cosmic evolution. It is overseen by a hidden Spiritual Hierarchy, the so-called Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, whose upper echelons consist of advanced spiritual beings.
Blavatsky portrayed the Theosophical Society as being part of one of many attempts throughout the millennia by this hidden Hierarchy to guide humanity – in concert with the overall Intelligent Cosmic Evolutionary scheme – towards its ultimate, immutable evolutionary objective: the attainment of perfection and the conscious, willing participation in the evolutionary process. These attempts require an earthly infrastructure (such as the Theosophical Society) which she held was ultimately under the inspiration of a number of Mahatmas, members of the Hierarchy.