Dr. Marty Bax, art historian, international expert on the work of Piet Mondrian, and on Modern Art & Western Esotericism
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10 May 2017
As a researcher I am inclined to return to subjects which have seen no satisfactory conclusion. These open ends keep nagging me and force me to revise the facts and search for new ones. Such is the case with Hilma af Klint. I wrote about her a couple of years ago, questioning some biographical facts of her life, her position within the group of The Five and her art production. Four of the women of The Five, all members of the Stockholm Lodge of the Theosophical Society, are supposed to have merely served the impressive output on esoteric art which made Hilma af Klint famous.
The Edelweissförbundet was founded in December 1888. This is, in fact, parallel to the founding of the branch of the TS in Stockholm. And this must be the date which has mistakenly be identified as the date in which Hilma af Klint joined the Theosophical Society.
Since1850 freedom of press became the pillar of a democratic state. Freedom of press was the starting point of an avalanche of artists manifests. Modern art is a direct outcome of this development until today, and so is the artist as being the primary voice and explicator of his artistic goals. This mechanism has in effect become a solid part of modern tradition. That tradition we would now call “branding”: creating your USP’s through your work and your manifests, and creating your own market through as much followers as possible.
The university has now become one of those followers. Recently the University of Leiden launched a chair for the “art sciences”, through which artists can acquire a PhD. It’s officially called “PhDArts at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts” and is a collaboration between the Leiden University and the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. The chair is led by the art historian and (former) art critic Janneke Wesseling.