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Recently Published Art History Thesis by Sarah Isenberg

May 04, 2020

  • Hilma af Klint: Painting for the Future, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
    David Heald

Art History Alum, Sarah Isenberg ’20, had her senior thesis published in the Bowdoin Journal of Art History. The journal is “the only academic journal dedicated to art history essays written by undergraduate students”. 

Sarah’s thesis abstract is pasted here:

Born in 1862, Swedish artist Hilma af Klint has contemporaneously been
heralded by many as the forgotten mother of abstraction. Between 1906 and
1915 af Klint created 193 works for her series Paintings for the Temple, all of
which she requested in her will not be shown publicly until 20 years after
her death. Since the discovery of her spiritualist paintings in the mid 1960s,
the meaning of their visual elements have been scrutinized by art historians
and compared to the likes of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich and other
early modern abstractionists. This paper focuses on the life and works of
Hilma af Klint and aims to deconstruct and disregard the notion that af
Klint created paintings that are abstract in the formalist, canonical sense of
the word. Rather, her oeuvre consists of spiritualist paintings that were
intended to be viewed by a primarily spiritualist audience. Through an in
depth discussion of af Klint’s biography, early 20th century esotericism, and
the artist’s many detailed notebooks, I create a framework for the
interpretation of three groups of af Klint’s paintings from her series
Paintings for the Temple: Primordial Chaos, The Ten Largest and
Altarpieces.

The full article can be accessed on line at the Bowdoin Journal of Art History

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