Lot 21
  • 21


180,000 - 250,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Franti�ek Folt�n
  • Composition
  • signed and dated Foltýn / 1927  P /12 lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 74 by 93cm., 29 by 36½in.


Pierre Demarne (1924 - 1999. Demarne was a French surrealist painter, poet and art critic, who worked with André Breton. He exhibited at all the Surrealist art exhibitions between 1947 and 1951)
Sale: Briest Scp., Paris, 16 April 1992, lot 22
Purchased at the above sale; thence by descent


Paris, Galerie Quatre Chemins, 1930


František Foltýn. 1891 - 1971, Košice - Paříž - Brno, ed. Moravian Gallery, Brno, 2007, p. 207 (illustrated on the cover of the 1930 invitation to the Galerie Quatre Chemins exhibition opening)

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1927 the present work it is an important early abstract work by Frantisek Foltýn. Foltýn had settled in Paris in 1924 and became a pupil of Frantisek Kupka until 1926. Initially a cubist painter, under the influence of Kupka Foltýn gradually developed his own ideas of biomorphic abstraction. Here, sharp lines and irregular shapes evocative of organic forms are superimposed and interconnected with each other. Whilst the composition might appear originated by chance, there is an intrinsic connection between every single element in it, aiming at a balance in rhythm, colour and shapes. Foltýn’s abstract pictures were first exhibited at the end of 1927 in the Au Sacré du Printemps gallery, a meeting place for artists supported by Michel Seuphor and Paul Dermée, patrons of abstract art. Out of these meetings was born the Cercle et Carré movement, uniting artists whose principal interest was geometric abstraction.   

Dated 1927 P/12 it appears that Composition was painted at the time of the 1927 exhibition. It is telling that Foltýn selected the work as the cover of the invitation to his next major exhibition at Galerie Quatre Chemins in 1930. By this time he had become well established in the Parisian art scene. The foreword to the exhibition catalogue was written by the renowned art critic Jean Cassou, and soon after Foltýn took part in the first and only international exhibition of Cercle et Carré at Gallery 23 in Paris alongside figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Hans Arp and Amédée Ozenfant.

Foltýn became a crucial member of Cercle et Carré and was a key figure in championing abstract art in the Czech Republic upon his return to his home country in the mid 1930s.