Opocno/Böhmen 1871 -
Puteaux bei Paris 1957
In 1887 František Kupka began training as an artist at the Prague academy under Frantisek Sequens, who had been strongly influenced by the Nazarener School. In 1891 the artist transfered to the academy in Vienna, where he worked under Professor Eisenmenger until 1893.
In 1894 Kupka travelled to London and Skandinavia, after which he settled in Paris in 1895. Just like Lyonel Feininger and Marcel Duchamp, František Kupka started off as caricaturist and drawer. He made fashion designs, drafts for posters, illustrations for books and various satirical magazines.
In 1905 Kupka moved to Puteaux in the suburbs, where he got acquainted with Jacques Villon, who introduced him to a circle of painters in 1910-11,including Marcel Duchamp, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia and others. They discussed the problems of form encountered by Cubism and Futurism as well as the connections between painting and music.
Kupka's works underwent a decisive development: He became the first artist in France to move from Jugendstil to Abstraction. The acceptance of the ornament as an independent element of Jugendstil lead him to the final abandonment of the natural form.
The group around Villon, who called themselves "Section d'Or", had their first exhibition at the Paris autumn salon in 1912. František Kupka exhibited his abstract pictures here, which are associated with Orphism because of their proximity to music. In 1914 he voluntarily enrolled for front-line duty at the Somme.
In 1918 František Kupka accepted a post as guest professor in Prague and in 1931 he co-founded the group "Abstraction-Création" with Hans Arp, Jean Hélion, Auguste Herbin, Georges Valmier and Georges Vantongerloo, becoming a member of the group's board. This time was also marked by important exhibitions at the "Jeu de Paume" museum in Paris.
František Kupka spent the Second World War in Beaugency, returning to Puteaux immediately after the liberation. In 1946 at the occasion of his 75th birthday the artist's first major retrospective was shown in Prague. In 1955 Kupka participated in "documenta I" in Kassel.
František Kupka died in Puteaux on July 21, 1957. A year later a large-scale retrospective exhibition took place at the "Musée d'Art Moderne" in Paris, which dedicated an entire room to Frantisek Kupka.