Hilma af Klint Breaks Records at the Guggenheim Museum

The survey of the late Swedish abstract painter has drawn 600,000 visitors, increased museum memberships, and broke another record in catalogue sales.

Hilma Af Klint: Paintings for the Future, a survey of the works of the Swedish abstract painter and occultist at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, has shattered previous records and become the museum’s most visited exhibition in its 60-year history.

Loved by museumgoers and critics alike, the popular exhibition has drawn 600,000 to the Guggenheim since it opened on October 12. More than 30,000 catalogues for the exhibition were sold, surpassing the last record set by a Kandinsky catalogue in 2009. The show also contributed to a 34 percent spike in membership sales, the museum says.

Af Klint has started creating her first works of abstract art in 1906, predating Kandinsky and other known abstract painters. In the six years that followed, she created 200 paintings along with complementary works on paper and notebooks documenting her plans, thoughts, and research for the creation of her works.

In her will, af Klint stipulated that her abstract works were not to be revealed to the world until 20 years after her death. She died at age 81 in 1944, but it took 42 more years before her works were featured in an exhibition (The Spiritual in Art, Abstract Painting 1890–1985, organized by Maurice Tuchman in Los Angeles in 1986). The Guggenheim’s comprehensive survey of this secret body of works now ranks as one of the top 10 most popular Impressionist and Modern art shows worldwide.

The exhibition, curated by the museum’s Director of Collections and Senior Curator Tracey Bashkoff, closes on Tuesday, April 23. To answer the high demand, the museum announced that it has extended its opening hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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