L13006

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Lot 6
  • 6

Frantisek Kupka

Estimate
700,000 - 1,000,000 GBP
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Description

  • Frantisek Kupka
  • √ČTUDE SUR FOND ROUGE
  • signed Kupka (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 69.5 by 69.5cm.
  • 27 3/8 by 27 3/8 in.

Provenance

Galerie Louis Carré, Paris
Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne
Acquired from the above by the late owner in 1981

Exhibited

Prague, Budova S.V.U. Mánes, František Kupka: Výstava zivotní díla 1880-1946, 1946, no. 37
New York, Louis Carré Gallery, Kupka, 1951, no. 6, illustrated in the catalogue
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Kupka, 1958, no. 36
Paris, Galerie Louis Carré, Kupka: peintures 1910-1946, 1964, no. 8
Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska, Frank Kupka, 1981, no. 12, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska, Frank Kupka, Die andere Realität, 1995, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Literature

Edith Mannoni, 'Frank Kupka, peintre des nébuleuses', in La Côté des Peintres, no. 9, vol. III, Paris, 1964, illustrated p. 19
Ludmila Vachtová, Frank Kupka, Pioneer of Abstract Art, New York & Toronto, 1968, no. 198, catalogued p. 305

Condition

The canvas is unlined and there is no evidence of retouching under ultra-violet light. Apart from one very small spot of paint loss in the lower left corner, only visible at close inspection, this work is in very good condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although the whites are cleaner and there is more variation in the red and orange tones in the original.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

Catalogue Note

Kupka settled in Paris in 1895 after completing his studies at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, earning his living in the French capital in his early years there as an illustrator for periodicals and journals, with a strong vein of social commentary running through his work. The stimulating environment of the metropolis, the ferment of modern art in the city and the artists and exhibitions travelling to it would all greatly inspire Kupka’s painting. From 1909 onwards, he increasingly turned away from capturing external reality towards espousing a radical simplification of pictorial composition that resonated deeply with internal realities of emotion and instinct as well as of the spiritual and with the cosmic. Kupka’s paintings from the first two decades of the twentieth century most strongly demonstrate his interest in cosmology and in the interplay between the pictorial arts and music.

Furthermore, Étude sur fond rouge suggests strong links with contemporary developments in European Modernism. The dynamic, shifting blue-green elements show a close alliance of interest to the Italian Futurists. The palette used and the almost organic forms that Kupka creates in the present work have an affinity with the Blaue Reiter group of German Expressionists such as Franz Marc.

Like Wassily Kandinsky, Kupka was an artist who strove for a conceptual basis in his art, studying colour, cosmology, physiology and biology, subjecting his studies to his aesthetic concerns. The present work is an exploration of the separation and interaction of colour as well as of the relationship between forms and shapes. For Kupka painting was not a mere imitation of nature but a subjective transfiguration of nature into an ensemble of graphic elements and gradations of light and colour to create another reality (fig. 1).

The artist stated in his notebook: ‘When we try to remember a dream… often we only retain a skeleton of the dream images… a vague grid through which fragmented forms emerge and disappear as quickly as they came. The projection of a form on the surface of the canvas is in fact merely the limiting of one surface in the relationship to the surrounding surfaces. The better painter one is, the better one binds the two’ (F. Kupka quoted in František Kupka –  A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1975, p. 61).