Frank Kupka, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne 1967, catalogue No 99 (illustrated in colour in the exhibition catalogue)
Frank Kupka, Museum des XX. Jahrhunderts, Wien, November - December 1967, catalogue No. 27
Vladimir Lekes: Frantisek Kupka - Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings, Prague 2016, Catalogue No. 350, p. 533 (titled: L'Envolée / Take Off / Vzlet)
Czech artist who is one of the most important painters of the last century, globally acclaimed, and one of the most significant leader characters - a pioneer in the field of abstract art. Together with Picabia, Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, he paved the way for contemporary non-figurative art.
Kupka was born in Opocno (Eastern Bohemian) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire but spent his youth in the nearby Dobruska. He studied at the Prague School of Art in the period 1889-92. He was one of the most gifted pupils, winning the finest prizes and scholarships the school had to offer year after year. During this period, he concentrated on painting historical and patriotic motifs. At the age of 21, Kupka was accepted by the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where he switched to a more symbolic and allegoric style of painting. It was around this time that he started to become more interested in theosophical and Eastern philosophy. In spring 1896, Kupka moved to Paris, where he spent a short time studying at the Académie Julian and subsequently with
Jean-Pierre Laurens at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. His paintings during this period was a mixture of Art Nouveau, French
symbolism and Eastern European decorative Arts. Kupka married a French widow, Eugénie Straub, and lived in Paris
until his death.
Kupka worked as an illustrator, and became well-known in Paris for his satirical drawings that appeared in the daily
papers. In 1906, he moved from Paris to the suburb of Puteaux and in the same year he exhibited for the first time at the Salon d'Automne. He was deeply impressed by the first Futuristic manifesto, which was published in Le Figaro in 1909, and triggered a variety of movements in his art. In around 1910-11 Kupka's works became increasingly abstract, as he continued to work on his theories of movement, colour and the link between music and painting. In fact, Kupka believed that painting should be as abstract as music, declaring:
"I believe I can find something between sight and hearing and I can produce a fugue in colours as Bach has done in music".
He participated in meetings organized by the Groupe de Puteaux (Section d'Or), a group of French artists and critics associated with Cubism and Orphism. In 1912 he participated with the group at an exhibition at the Salon des Indépendents, in what was known as the 'Cubist room'. Kupka exhibited his non-objective works - painted a few years earlier - for the first time at the Salon d'Automne in 1912. The paintings he chose to exhibit: Amorpha, fugue en deux couleurs and Amorpha, chromatique chaude created confusion and anger - but also stimulated a good deal of enthusiasm among visitors and critics alike. The paintings are considered to be the first non-figurative paintings to be exhibited in public in Paris. Following this exhibition, Kupka became loyal to abstract painting and, unlike a number of his contemporary colleagues, never reverted to figurative painting. His abstract
art can be divided into two distinct phases: lyrical abundance and strict geometry.
By the outbreak of World War I he joined the French army and fought in the trenches alongside the French poet Blaise Cendrars. He was wounded and returned to Paris. After the war Kupka worked for a time in the French Department of Defense and taught students from the Prague Academy of Fine Arts. In the early 1930s, he was one of the founders of the Abstraction-Création group of artists. Kupka's great breakthrough did not come until 1958 - a year after his death - at the retrospective exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris. Following this exhibition, the museum devoted an entire room to several of the artist's most important works.
Madame Georges Martinel-Kupka, Boulogne (the artist's step-daughter)
Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris
IngaBritt and Arne Lundberg, Gothenburg, Sweden