Temple for the Pictures

T emple for the Pictures houses paintings created by Swedish abstract artist Hilma af Klint. Having just recently been recognized as a pioneer of abstract painting, Hilma af Klint deserves a space for visitors to experience her magnificent art. Set on Lidingo, an island in Stockholm, the Temple for the pictures provides the contemporary visitor a glance into Hilma’s world as well as a view on a part of her large painterly opus. The Temple houses 10 paintings, named “The Ten Largest”.

The project received an Editor’s Choice award and was published on the Combo Competitions website. Combo Competitions.

“The colorful illustrations together with the well-written text beautifully depict a visit to the Temple for the Pictures. By ascribing each part of the museum a different theme based on af Klint’s The Ten Largest series, the building’s architecture seamlessly merges with the paintings into a fluid visitor experience.” Combo Competition Editor’s Comments

Hilma af Klint
Hilma af Klint, Hilma af Klint From A Work on Flowers, Mosses and Lichen, July 2 1919 © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk/Photo: Moderna Museet, Albin Dahlström

These ten paintings are a part of a larger series, “Paintings for the Temple” which , consisting of 193 paintings of large format, was created within a period of only six years (1906-1912). The paintings which are presented within the Temple represent four stages of human life: childhood, youth, maturity and old age. The Temple gives the visitor the opportunity to experience these various life phases by traveling through a series of four spaces, each representing a life period, beginning with childhood and ending with old age.

“The Ten Largest”, Hilma af Klint, 1906-1908
Childhood – You enter the Temple the same way you enter life: alone. You walk through a long, high and narrow hallway. Your fingers touch the rough walls while you gaze at the tiny strip of sky. Light passes through the slit between the walls. You feel small as you walk onward. Further down, the walls seem to slowly separate. You start feeling the sun on your skin as the gap widens.
Youth –  You find yourself in a wide, open space. Unsure of where to go, you start wondering around the enclosed garden. There are rows of lilies and roses filling the space with an intoxicating scent. In the centre, there is a dark circle. Something is bellow it. But the dark and uncertainty frightens you. You dare not look down. Curious, you try to see what lies behind the tall walls surrounding the garden. There are slits in the walls which allow you to look outside, but your view is limited. Standing on the tips of your toes you try and look outside. You see a blue horizon reaching as far as the eye can see. But you still don’t see the whole picture. Suddenly you notice there is someone else in the garden. After an initial moment of uncertainty, you start exploring the garden together. You sit together between the roses and the lilies and imagine what lies in the space bellow the circle. Maybe you could go there together.
Maturity – Suddenly you get startled by a sound in the distance. You realize that you have fallen asleep in the garden. Once again you are alone. You notice a passage behind one of the high walls. You turn around the corner and you can see the blue horizon again. You now realize that you are standing next to the water. A long dock extends towards the horizon. The further down you go, the more of the world you see and understand. At the end of the dock you turn around. You notice a path leading downward. You see your friend there so you decide to go down together.
Old Age – You enter a dark room. There is light coming from a circular gap in the ceiling. It must be the same gap you saw in the garden. But now you see it is a beautiful window towards the sky. How your perspective has changed. You start noticing large paintings on the walls surrounding you. You look back and see Childhood, Youth and Maturity. Finally, you come to Old Age. You observe it together. In this light, unlike with the other paintings, it is difficult to see where Old Age ends or begins. You slowly find your way to the exit. There are multiple stairs leading to the higher level. But the hallways are quite narrow. You leave the Temple the same way you leave life: alone. But maybe you will run into each other again when you reach the top.

Stockholm, 2017

Learn more about Hilma