KUPKA

Frantisek Kupka was born in 1871 in eastern Bohemia (now Czech Republic). At the age of 13, he worked as an apprentice with a saddler, who noticed his gift, encouraged him and initiated him to spiritualism. He integrated the studio of the painter Alois Studnicka, who trained him to enrol at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He inculcating him solid artistic basis such as the theory of colour and motion. From Prague, his way led him to Vienna, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts. As the romantic teaching was highly influenced by the Nazarenes and was very similar to the one taught in Prague, Kupka preferred studying philosophy, sciences, theosophy and occultism.

In 1894, he discovered Paris, before settling in a studio in Montparnasse in 1899. He brieflyattended the Académie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He started exhibiting at the SociétéNationale desBeaux-Arts the same year, then at the Universal Exhibition in 1900, and since 1910 at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne. He also worked as an illustrator for satirical newspapers and magazines such as “Assiette au beurre” (from 1901 to 1907) and“Canard Sauvage” (1903). After executing the painting “La Gamme Jaune” (The YellowScale) around 1908, he started to produce non-figurative paintings in the 1910s. He first executed vertical and geometrical compositions, then painted circular patterns as from 1912. The First WorldWar marked a stop in his career. However, in the 1920s, he got back to painting,which eventually led him to abstraction. In parallel, he wrote a treaty on art, which he published in 1923 in Prague under the name “La Création dans les Arts Plastiques”

(Creation in the Plastic Arts). In 1928, Kupka had a strong interest in mechanisation and depicted wheels, connecting rods and circular mechanical pieces, which all translated the power of machinery. This is how Kupka actively participated in groups such as “Vouloir, Lille 1925” and “Abstraction-Création”, which he joined in 1931. As from 1935, Kupka studied the relationship between music and mechanisation and produced his series “Jazz Hot” and “Musique”. The next year, thanks to Marcel Duchamp, Kupka was invited to participate in the collectiveexhibition “Cubismand Abstract Art” at the MoMa in New York, followed by an exhibition at the Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris.

This work produced between 1930 and 1935 is a good example of Kupka geometric abstraction. We see circles meeting of horizontal and vertical lines. It is reminiscent of the work of Mondrian and néoplasticiens.