Do You Know František Kupka?

Do You Know František Kupka?

Meet the most famous modern Czech artist

HomeWhat's NewDo You Know František Kupka?
This year, we commemorate 150 years from the birth of the genius artist of the 20th century. His works are on display at leading world galleries, and when one of Kupka’s paintings is available for sale, the prices break records. Follow the footsteps of František Kupka, a graphic designer, illustrator, and one of the founders of abstract painting.

Meet František Kupka

František Kupka was born on 23 September 1871 in Opočno, a town in East Bohemia, into a family of an officer. He was the oldest of five children. He grew up in a small town called Dobruška in the Orlické Mountains and trained to be a saddler. In the end, his talent brought him to art schools in Prague and Vienna. From there he travelled to Paris to get some experience. He spent most of his life travelling between Prague and Paris, where he taught at art schools. He painted hundreds of works during his life, with a great success and many awards. Kupka is considered to be one of the founders of abstract painting. At first, his paintings were based on reality, perfectly depicting the world around him, but they gradually became less and less precise until his work finally transformed into pure abstraction. His painting Amorpha. Fugue in Two Colours, is considered to be the breaking point in art. He painted it in 1912. František Kupka died on 24 June 1957 at the age of 85 in Paris, where he is also buried.

The Best of Kupka

The most expensive painting auctioned in the Czech Republic is Divertimento II by František Kupka; it was sold for more than 90 million Czech crowns. However, it is not the priciest Kupka’s work in the world. Kupka’s painting Upward Thrust II of 1923 holds the imaginary first place, as a buyer in Great Britain paid 231 million Czech crowns for this painting at the beginning of 2021. His most famous painting, Amorpha. Fugue in Two Colours, as mentioned above, has an interesting story. It contains red and blue figures outlined with elliptical lines on black and white background. Allegedly, Kupka achieved the shapes in the painting by watching his stepdaughter Andrée playing with a ball and so the painting depicts the movement of the game. It is one of the very first abstract painting ever, a pioneer work in the abstract art. The oil painting on canvas with dimensions of 211×220 cm was first displayed at the 1912 Autumn Salon in Paris. Today, it is owned by the National Gallery in Prague and you can see it in the Trade Fair Palace.

Where to See Kupka

You will not be disappointed if you visit the Kampa Museum in the centre of Prague. The artworks by František Kupka are one of the most important parts of the Museum’s collection. The permanent exposition with seven chapters introduces Kupka’s work chronologically from the mid-1890s to his work from the 1950s. It is a great opportunity to see the individual stages of Kupka’s art development. There are more than seventy works by this abstraction pioneer on display. You will currently not find a larger collection in one place anywhere else. Most of his other works in the Czech Republic are in the possession of the National Gallery in Prague. They used to be in the collections of the Prague Castle, but the first communist president got rid of them at the beginning of the 1950s as artistically unsuitable. Luckily, the works were not damaged, only “put away” to the depositaries of the National Gallery.