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Frantisek Kupka (1871 - 1957)

Lot 36: Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957)


June 21, 2005
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


Plans diagonaux
signed 'Kupka' (lower right)
oil on canvas
31 1/2 x 28 1/2 in. (80 x 72.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1924

Artist or Maker

Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957)


This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Pierre Brullé dated Paris, le 26 avril 2005.

'The chill of abstraction can fall on you like vertical planes, like the pipes of a silver organ within the sombre sulkiness of a wood-panelled room.' (Arnould-Grémily speaking about Kupka's series of Vertical and Diagonal Planes pictures on exhibition at the Galerie Povolsky in 1921)

Throughout his life Kupka was a keen practising spiritualist. Many of the structures and concepts for his paintings came from visionary experiences and from theories about the underlying rhythms of the cosmos that linked such things as space, music, rhythm form and colour into a cohesive and abstract whole. For him, as it was for the Theosophists, the essence of nature manifested itself as a rhythmic geometric force that could be discerned through mediumistic powers. In 1911, alongside the pioneering developments into abstraction made by other devotees of Theosophy, Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian, Kupka began to develop these ideas in his groundbreakings series of paintings, the Vertical planes. These were architectonic interpretations of colour and spatial relationships that grew out of an investigation of the patterns of light shining through a window that Kupka had first encountered when painting a self-portrait in 1905 and which grew into the attempt to articulate the essentially abstract nature of verticality itself. In 1913 Kupka developed these 'vertical planes' by adding a spatial diagonal element in a series of works entitled Vertical and Diagonal Planes which increased a spatial tension as well as developing the architectonic theme of this essentially abstract development of form and colour.

Kupka continued to paint and develop this series of works periodically throughout his life, returning to the theme at various stages in his career but most notably in the early 1920s when these works reflected an increasingly architectural element in Kupka's art. During this period, the period to which Untitled (Verticals and Diagonals) belongs, Kupka developed what he called a 'philosophical architecture' of forms that elegantly outlined a seemingly infinite vertical upwards progression of form and colour in space.

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