Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Fine and Decorative Art and Design

First Advisor

Judith Prowda

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Pergam


Swedish occultist, scholar, and artist, Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), produced a series of 193 paintings after receiving a commission in 1906 from a divine spirit who offered complex iconographic insight into human ontology. The resulting series of colorful abstract paintings would not only alter her life, but also redefine contemporary perceptions of the Western art historical canon. Although all works of art are inherently spiritual to a degree, af Klint’s, commission Paintings for the Temple, is an example of Modern Western Esotericism. The commission maintains the six principle characteristics the construct is defined by, including: Role of Mediations and Imagination, Experience of Transmutation, Practice of Concordance, Transmission, the Idea of Living Nature, and Universal Correspondences. Modern Western Esotericism can be utilized as a practical scope when revisiting often bias art historical literature. af Klint’s abstracted paintings supersede the previously purposed first abstractionist’s work, shedding light on other narrow-minded previous claims within the discipline.