NFTs launched on Pharrell Williams’s Goda platform are latest digital offering of Abstract artist’s work

More than a century after she completed it chef d’oeuvre– 193 abstract canvases collectively known as Paintings for the Temple (1906-15) – Hilma af Klint has become a multimedia power player this year. Her work – graphic, colorful and deeply idiosyncratic – has demonstrated a van Gogh-like power to take root and has led to projects in a variety of formats, from books and films to virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR ).

Now, starting November 14th, digital versions of all 193 of her Paintings for the Temple, created by Acute Art, will be offered as NFTs in an edition on Goda (Gallery of Digital Assets), the platform launched earlier this year by multi-Grammy Award-winning philanthropist and recording artist Pharrell Williams. A second edition of the NFTs remains with Bokförlaget Stolpe, the editor of Af Klint’s catalog raisonné. The originals belong to the non-profit Hilma af Klint Foundation in Sweden.

Hilma af Klint was an incredible pioneer! It took us a century to fully understand it. Now we must rewrite art history and celebrate a truly remarkable woman

Pharrell Williams

“Hilma af Klint was an incredible pioneer!” says Pharrell Williams. “It took us a century to fully understand it. Now we must rewrite art history! Beautiful and meaningful art truly does stand the test of time and Hilma af Klint’s work is a perfect example of this. We are honored to feature her work on this platform and to truly celebrate a remarkable woman.” For KAWS, who serves as art advisor on the Goda platform, Af Klint was a visionary. “I think it’s great that she’s finally getting the attention she deserves,” says KAWS. “In her lifetime, audiences weren’t ready, but today we are. She painted for the future. She painted for us!”

Hilma af Klints The temple (2022), virtual reality conceived by Stolpe Publishing and Acute Art Courtesy of Stolpe Publishing and Acute Art

The increasing demand for Hilma experiences brings back memories of the 2018 exhibition of her paintings at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which broke attendance records for the institution, sent 100,000 copies of the catalog worldwide and sold out the exhibition’s artist merchandise.

Af Klint, the mystical Swedish mother of early modern abstraction whose seminal work went unrecognized in her lifetime, has been featured in a series of publications over the past month: a new biography; the seventh and last volume of her catalog raisonné; a VR experience, Hilma af Klint: The Temple; and a biopic Hilmawhich opened in UK cinemas in October.

The Ten Greatest, No. 1, Childhood, 1907. One of the 193 paintings by Hilma af Klint temple sseries that is offered in digital form as NFT on Goda © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk

Af Klint – who was involved in spiritualism and automatic drawing in a group of Stockholm women artists called The Five – followed Rudolf Steiner, the philosopher of spiritual science, and the mystic Madame Blavatsky into the fashionable, well-funded Theosophical movement. She demonstrated a theosophist’s concern with geometric and spiral shapes in the mass of diagrams temple Images she worked on after being asked by a ‘grand master’ at a séance in 1906 to abandon her academic approach to art.

Hilma af Klint dreamed of a spiral building large enough to show… the overwhelming beauty Paintings for the Temple. Acute Art has created digital versions of the 193 works to be purchased as NFTs. As a result, the temple will belong to people around the world

Daniel Birnbaum, Artistic Director, Acute Art

The new NFT editions and The temple The VR piece was created by London-based extended reality (XR) studio Acute Art, as was an AR app. Hilma af Klint Walk. Both the VR and AR pieces were shown at top-notch art fairs last month: Frieze London and Paris+ par Art Basel. The VR work is a “dream project” for Daniel Birnbaum, the artistic director of Acute Art, who curated Hilma af Klint: Painting the Invisible at the Serpentine Galleries in London in 2016 while he was director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

“Hilma af Klint dreamed of a spiral building large enough to house her most important works, the overwhelmingly beautiful ones Paintings for the Temple‘ says Birnbaum. “Acute Art has created digital versions of the 193 works to be acquired as NFTs. As a result, the temple will belong to people all over the world.” The NFT project opens up a digital market for their work for the first time.

Hilma af Klint Walk, produced by studio Acute Art, allows users to view 18 augmented reality versions of Af Klint’s work along the path that runs between Frieze London and Frieze Masters. A virtual reality experience will also take place at several locations Courtesy of Stolpe Publishing and Acute Art

Hilma in virtual reality

Beautifully framed and accelerated by Acute Art’s creative technologist Rodrigo Marques, with an ambient soundtrack by Andrew Sheriff, the VR work takes the viewer on a dreamlike flight through Af Klint’s corkscrew spirals and trellis, Guggenheim-esque ramps up and down, where the artist’s brilliantly colored paintings materialize and enliven; and about an island full of sunflowers, modeled after a real island between Copenhagen and Malmö, where the artist once wanted to build a temple.

The catalog raisonné of Hima af Klint

In December, the VR experience will be showcased on the huge wraparound ultra high definition screens at the recently opened Outernet arts hub in central London. The presentation of The temple follows other festival-standard VR pieces by contemporary artists like Simon Denny and Marco Brambilla, offered for free to generate traffic from walk-in viewers.

Birnbaum is also co-editor with Kurt Almqvist of Af Klint’s catalog raisonné published by Stolpe. He says that he and Stolpe’s team see the VR piece as the “eighth volume” of their monumental catalog of 1,500 works. The NFT project is another addition to the Stolpe catalogue, with the publisher keeping the second NFT edition of the temple Painting.

Tora Hallström, the daughter of Swedish director Lasse Hallström, plays the role of young Hilma in the new biopic

© Viaplay Group

The new movie Hilma, directed by Lasse Hallström, is a lyrically framed family affair in which the elder Hilma is played by his wife Lena Olin and the younger Hilma is played by his daughter Tora Hallström. It highlights the Af Klint family’s interest in mathematics, botany and nature in general, as well as the Stockholm sorority – devoted to spiritualism, art and women’s rights – in which Af Klint thrived.

With so much new Hilma content, where do you start? Birnbaum says the shell-like, spiral-shaped Guggenheim Museum proved ideal for Af Klint’s paintings in 2018. (The museum’s founding curator, Hilla von Rebay, who worked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright on its design, was another theosophist.) But he argues that VR, with its ability to display multiple works in ever-evolving digital temples, the Medium is the Af Klint’s work has been long awaited.

Hilma Af Klint: The Temple, Outernet, 138 Charing Cross Road, London, every Sunday 11 December to 5 February 2023