Artists Exhibitions News Sweden

Swedish artist’s foundation split by legal dispute

Boardroom fight centres around alleged plan to build anthroposophy museum with funds from Hilma af Klint foundation

The first major retrospective of Hilma af Klint's work in her native Sweden is being overshadowed by a legal dispute. Right: Svanen, nr 17, grupp IX/SUW, serie SUW/UW, 1915 © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk, Photo: Moderna Museet/Albin Dahlström

The first major retrospective of the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) in her home country (“A Pioneer of Abstraction”, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, until 26 May) has been overshadowed by a legal dispute involving members of the board of the Hilma af Klint foundation that owns her works. According to the artist’s great nephew, Johan af Klint, who is also the former chairman of the board, three board members have misused their position in order to fund a museum dedicated to anthroposophy, the “philosophy” based on the writings of Rudolf Steiner. Af Klint says he has reported Anders Kumlander, Marius Wahl Gran and Ulf Wagner, to the police. He says they “want to use the foundation’s assets as well as its good name as a tool for pursuing divergent interests” and that the three board members were planning to sell works from the collection to finance the new museum.

Johan af Klint was voted off the foundation's board by Kumlander, Gran and Wagner in July 2012 after he had offered the foundation’s collection as a donation to Moderna Museet. Kumlander had previously been been dismissed from the board but was later reinstated. Both decisions are now subject to legal suit and counter-suit.

Wagner denies the accusations, but says that he would like to establish a museum. “Legally we would not be allowed to sell her works,” he says, but adds that this holds only for the major works. In the meantime, Moderna Museet has announced that some of Hilma af Klint’s works will be shown in the Italian Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.

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