Czech, active in France, 1871-1957
František Kupka began supporting himself as a spiritual medium at the age of 15. His deep interest in mysticism became a driving force throughout his life and in his work. Around 1908, Kupka began to draw figures that bordered on the nonrepresentational. Impressed by the 1909 Futurist Manifesto, which argued that creative expression should represent the dynamism of the early 20th century’s Industrial Age, the artist came to believe that painting should solely focus on color, light, and shadow in order to harness spiritual phenomena.
Kupka, together with French artists Robert and Sonia Delaunay, became a pioneer of Orphism. Strongly rooted in Cubism, the movement’s practitioners developed a lyrical abstraction that focused on the sensation of pure pigment. As Kupka further honed his vision, he became interested in the image of colorful arcs radiating out of single umbilicus as a representation of energy, growth, and movement. Lines, Planes, Depth is reminiscent of the ways in which light shifts when cast through a pane of stained glass—Kupka is said to have placed a carved wooden panel glazed with a floral pattern against a vivid blue backdrop in his studio to emulate this phenomena.