The idea that a woman got there first, and with such style, is beyond thrilling. Yes, I know art is not a competition; every artist’s “there” is a different place. Abstraction is a pre-existing condition, found in all cultures. But still: af Klint’s “there” seems so radical, so unlike anything else going on at the time. Her paintings definitively explode the notion of modernist abstraction as a male project. Despite several decades during which modernism’s history has been expanded and diversified, there is something towering about the emergence of af Klint, which really began in earnest in the 1980s. (She knew she was ahead of her time, and stipulated that her work not be exhibited until 20 years after her death — but it took even longer.)
(Roberta Smith, “‘Hilma Who?’ No More,” NYTimes, 10-12-18)
(c) 2018 JMN.