Wendy DesChene | Seven years too late Mr. Kandinsky
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Seven years too late Mr. Kandinsky

You have to love history when it puts the record straight. Until recently, Wassily Kandinsky was credited with the creation of the first abstract painting in Europe. But now, in a historical revision, it would appear that he was beaten to the punch by about seven years.

If that’s not a bad enough blow to the Kandinsky fan club not only was he number two, the first person across the finish line was a woman who was about as far from the hip-art world as you could be.

Hilma af Klint lived in Sweden. She did make her living as a painter. Doing portraits and generally doing the things she needed to pay the bills. But there was another side to her work. In the privacy of her own studio, she was moving in a completely new direction. These were truly the first abstract paintings.

This was in 1905 – af Klint was to die in a tram accident in 1944, (remind you of anyone else who was a little of the beaten track? Gaudi spring to mind, anyone?). With her death, there was no one to further promote her work and so from then until now, she has remained obscure.

But no longer! In 2018 she is beginning to get the recognition she deserves. Especially with an exhibition at the NY Guggenheim. It seems that if you wait long enough everything comes around. I wonder what she would have thought about all this fame?

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