Anna Cassel & Hilma af Klint. Childhood, 1907. Vision of a New Swedish Christian identity

  • BaxBooks_Cassel_klint_Childhood1907

In December 1907 Hilma af Klint and the group De Fem finished the of a series of ten paintings, called De tio största (The Ten Largest), the last series of the first “Paintings for the temple”(1906-1908). This series is said to depict the evolution of human life from birth to old age. Descriptions in literature are mainly highly descriptive in character, and when inspirational sources are mentioned, they are interpreted in the way Hilma af Klint’s fame rose from the late 1980’s: late 19th and early 20th century Occultism: Theosophy and Anthroposophy.

Of the proceedings seven notebooks exist: five made during sessions of De Fem, and two separate ones by Anna Cassel and Hilma af Klint. These last notebooks in fact are extracts of the now destroyed 28 (sic) original notebooks. Hilma made these extracts shortly after 1927, and annotated them another time in 1934. Thus the two existing notebooks contain only a sliver of the original ones. By piecing together the information of all of the seven notebooks it becomes clear that Hilma deliberately twisted history to her advantage when all of her colleagues had died. She describes her role in the group as the superior one, as the genius behind the work. Also she superimposes her later Occult worldview on work that was made around 1906-1908. None of this is historically correct.

The first of The Ten Largest, Childhood, is a perfect study object to delve deeper into the real events and contemporary context. The iconographical breakdown of all of the elements of the painting have resulted in a stunning picture of the circumstances and of the reasons why the specific pictorial elements were chosen. The genius behind the work – in fact of the whole concept of all of the series between 1906 and 1908 – is Anna Cassel, who solely received the assignment from the spirits.

The analysis of Childhood provides an array of the predictable impulses that Anna has worked into the painting. Among them are Christian Spiritualism and Pietism (the religious orientation of De Fem and the Edelweissförbundet), Norse folklore, archeology and rune culture, all in the context of Swedish National Romanticism. The theme of the series has nothing to do with the natural progression of a human life. It symbolizes the birth and development of the modern Christian identity of the young, newly formed Swedish State in 1905.

  • Type: PDF
  • Suitable for: All digital media
  • Author: Marty Bax
  • Language: English
  • Tags: Anna Cassel, Hilma af Klint, De Fem, The Five, Edelweissförbundet, Spiritualism, Pietism, Theosophy, Anthroposophy, National Romanticism, Runes, iron industry, Birka, Svealand, Ottilia Adelborg, Dalarna