Earlier this week, a partnership between Stolpe Publishing, Acute Art, and GODA announced that Hilma af Klint’s artworks from her series “Paintings for the Temple” (1906-1915) had been made into NFTs currently for sale at auction. But, amid the buzzy launch, a relative of af Klint spoke out about the project to Hyperallergic on Tuesday.
“Even if you don’t believe in spirits, everyone carries spiritual beliefs and aspirations for something higher in life,” Hedvig Ersman, the granddaughter of af Klint’s nephew, Erik af Klint, told Hyperallergic. “Hilma af Klint’s paintings speak to us about that … That they’re being monetized, and itemized, and sold as NFTs — this completely goes against the will of Hilma af Klint.”
Ersman argued that af Klint saw her series as a profound spiritual project and had insisted that the works be kept together and not seen by the public until two decades after her death.
“She saw these paintings as all part of one project. They were meant to be kept together,” Ersman said. “They’re not meant for a person to have hanging on their wall in the living room.”
Accordingly, af Klint’s paintings from the series were never intended to be sold, and the physical versions of the works never will be. They are held, instead, in the care of the Hilma af Klint Foundation, a nonprofit based in Sweden.
However, three members of the Hilma af Klint organization also work for the parent company of Stolpe Publishing, which recently published as Klint’s catalogue raisonée. Stolpe was also a key member of the team that worked to tokenize af Klint’s work, along with Actue Art, a VR and AR production company, and GODA, a digital art gallery founded by rapper Pharrell Williams. The connection between the foundation and the publishing company is how the rights to create NFTs based off of the works were obtained, according to The Art Newspaper.
Currently, plans to sell the NFTs at auction seem to be moving forward. Acute Art has also put together a digital showing room that it meant to capture af Klint’s vision of a temple that would hold her series of paintings.