Verticals Stability & Tension Diagonals

Meet an in-painting tour of The Cathedral of František Kupka, a pioneer and co-founder of the early phases of the abstract art movement and Orphism.

The Cathedral (1912 - 1913) by František KupkaMuseum Kampa

After solving problems revolving around vertical planes, the development of Kupka's painting consistently turnedtowards space. Verticals gave him stability, but he also needed to express tension, which was accomplished with diagonals.

With this came a whole series of pictures called 'Vertical and Diagonal Planes'. Kupka gave the most beautifuland the most perfect of these the title 'Cathedral'.

Here he combined his interests in architecture and music, which he had been interested in since his early youth. It was in France where he became inspired with the architecture of Gothic cathedrals, especially with what he called in his book 'their vertiginous musicality'. 

The more rhythm there is in a workof art, the closer it approximates music, the art of sounds... 

Architecture, whose symmetrical alternation corresponds most closely to musical beats, is according to the situation a hymn, sonata, gavotte, or symphony…' (Tvořeni v uměnivytvarnem/Creation dans l'Art plastique, p. 151).

Kupka also describes the coloured windows that probably inspired this picture: '…as far as the colour purple is concerned, it is necessary to take into account the oscillating speed of red with regard to the speed of blue.

In the church of Saint Germain-L'Auxerrois, on three windows behind the main altar there are meandering borders of blue and red offairly equal area.

Up close the blue was dominant.

But from a distance, these borders were not purple, as one might think they would be, but they would seem red. The blue gets lost on the way…'

M. M.

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