František Kupka (1871 – 1957)

František Kupka, a Czech painter and graphic artist, was born in the small town of Opočno in eastern Bohemia in 1871. František Kupka is known as one of the pioneers of Abstract Art and Orphism, which helped evolve Cubism into Abstract Art, a movement more concerned with expression and sensation through color, music and form. Kupka studied at the Prague Art Academy from 1889 to 1892 where he experimented with patriotic and historical themes; he then moved to Vienna and became interested in symbolism and allegory painting. After Vienna Kupka moved to the art capital of Paris where he studied and worked as a book and poster illustrator, eventually moving to the commune of Puteaux and then holding his first show at the Salon d’Automne. It was around this time that Kupka became inspired by the Futurist Manifesto by the Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, which was published in Le Figaro in 1909; the manifesto launched the Futurism movement, a movement concerned with rejecting the past, celebrating youth, speed, industry and sought to breathe new life into Italian culture. The change in Kupka’s work was first evident with his painting Piano Keyboard/Lake (1909), after which his work became more and more abstract. Kupka’s paintings are whimsical, vibrant, fast, and musical and provoke expressive emotions through their bright colors and sense of movement. Kupka continued to paint and exhibit and in 1931 was a founding member of Abstraction-Creation, a group of Paris based artists who wished to counteract the popularity of Andre Breton and his Surrealist movement. In 1936 Kupka showcased his work at an exhibition titled Cubism and Abstract Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Kupka went on to show with fellow Czech painter Alfons Mucha in Paris and did a number of solo shows in Paris and New York. In 1946 the respected Manes Gallery in Prague held a retrospective of his life’s work. Kupka's work can be viewed at the Kampa Museum, where you will find an extensive collection, and at the Veletrzni Palace.


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