František Kupka was born September 23, 1871, in Opočno in Eastern Bohemia. From 1889 to 1892, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. At this time, he painted historical and patriotic subjects. In 1892, Kupka enrolled at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, where he concentrated on symbolic and allegorical subjects. He exhibited at the Kunstverein, Vienna, in 1894. His involvement with theosophy and Eastern philosophy dates from this period. By spring 1896, Kupka had settled in Paris, where he briefly attended the Académie Julian and then studied under Jean-Pierre Laurens at the École des Beaux-Arts.

Kupka worked as an illustrator of books and posters and, during his early years in Paris, became known for his satirical drawings for newspapers and magazines. In 1906, he settled in Puteaux, a suburb of Paris, and that same year exhibited for the first time at the Salon d’Automne. Kupka was deeply impressed by the first Futurist manifesto, published in 1909 in Le Figaro. Kupka’s work became increasingly abstract around 1910–11, reflecting his theories of motion, color, and the relationship between music and painting. In 1911, he attended meetings of the Puteaux group. In 1912, he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in the Cubist room, although he did not wish to be identified with any movement.

Creation in the Plastic Arts, a book Kupka completed in 1913, was published in Prague in 1923. In 1921, his first solo show in Paris was held at Galerie Povolozky. In 1931, he was a founding member of Abstraction-Création together with Jean Arp, albert Gleizes, Jean Hélion, Auguste Herbin, Theo van Doesburg, and Georges Vantongerloo. In 1936, his work was included in the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and in an important show with Alphonse Mucha at the Jeu de Paume, Paris. A retrospective of his work took place at the Galerie S.V.U. Mánes in Prague in 1946. The same year, Kupka participated in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Paris, where he continued to exhibit regularly until his death. During the early 1950s, he gained general recognition and had several solo shows in New York. Kupka died in Puteaux on June 24, 1957. Retrospectives were held at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, in 1958 and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1975.


František Kupka


ca. 1910 (?)

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