Alongside modern masters Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky, František Kupka was one of the most important artists on the path to abstraction in the early twentieth century. He trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, before moving to Paris in 1896, where for the first time he was subject to the paintings of the Neo-Impressionists. Kupka adapted their bold use of primary colour as part of his own quest to understand the association between colour and form. Feeling a strong connection between colours and emotions, he considered himself a ‘colour symphonist’ - as Thomas M. Messer states: ‘Kupka demonstrated that painting, like music, has a capacity to convey its meaning entirely through formal means’ (František Kupka 1871-1957 A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1975, p. 9). From 1909 onwards, he increasingly departed from the depiction of external reality and moved towards radical pictorial compositions of harmonious and rhythmic forms which expressed his inner state.

“František Kupka has gained a secure place in the history of modern painting, for he was among those very few authentic innovators who, early in the second decade of the twentieth century, dared to cross the threshold which at the time separated representational from non-objective painting.”
- Thomas M. Messer (the director of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from 1961 – 1988)

Composition – Lueurs, executed in 1911, wonderfully exhibits Kupka’s affinity with colour and form. Rendered strongly in pastel, the multifarious use of pigments have a glowing quality which captivates the viewer. It is a prime example of the artist’s early work, which was characterised by organic shapes and forms. The dynamic royal blue and black elements, which contrast with the lighter colours, reflect his interest in the Italian Futurists and the Blaue Reiter group of the German Expressionists.

Kupka never ceased to be interested in the psychology of colour and in 1923 developed a theory in his book Tvoření v umění výtvarném (Creation in Plastic Art), titled ‘Meaning and Feeling of Colour.’ His artistic development is a long road to abstraction and his concept of non-objective art is evident from his notes for his book (written between 1910-14), the book itself, his correspondence with friends and his preparatory studies for paintings. His book conveys his philosophical leanings and his letters to friends further reveal his commitment to spiritism and Theosophy. Kupka believed that life is a force of consciousness which is the essence of all things, that nature manifests itself rhythmically in geometric structures, which, being a thing of beauty, can be discovered by artists who are gifted with intuition.