Anna Cassel: The Saga of the Rose, edited by Kurt Almqvist and Daniel Birnbaum / 182-page hardback, 7.75 x 10.75 inches, published in 2023 by Bokforlaget Stolpe / ISBN 9789189425828
A revelatory introduction to the spiritualist abstractions of the Swedish painter and lifelong friend of Hilma af Klint
Until now, the Swedish painter Anna Cassel (1860–1937) had mostly been famed for her paintings of landscapes and urban environments, with motifs from the Swedish rural counties Jämtland and Västmanland, and from Stockholm. She is less known for her deep involvement with spiritualist groups, the circle of Hilma af Klint and the occult art group known as The Five. Only now, nearly a century after her death, is Cassel's significant, mesmerizing and original contribution to abstract and spiritual art garnering attention, not least thanks to her lifelong friendship and collaboration with Af Klint. The two women met while studying at Slöjdskolan in Stockholm and later were part of the group The Five in 1896, along with Sigrid Hedman, Mathilda Nilsson and Cornelia Cederberg. The Five began as a regular spiritualist group but soon experimented with seances, developing the automatism technique used decades later by the Surrealists. Cassel, hailing from a wealthy family, also financially supported Af Klint throughout much of her career.
In this beautifully produced volume, the life and work of Anna Cassels is presented for the first time to a wider audience, revealing her as a creator of gorgeous, radiant abstractions and spiritual diagrams. Cassel is introduced to a wider audience in two essays that make clear that the collaboration between her and Af Klint was much deeper than previously known. This is also the first time that Cassel’s spiritual work The Saga of the Rose has been published.