Musée d'Orsay: Frantisek Kupka Chimneys

Frantisek Kupka

Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957)
Oil on canvas
H. 47; W. 55.5 cm
© ADAGP, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Herve Lewandowski

Les cheminées [Chimneys]

The study of the sky, a genuinely separate genre within landscape painting, has inspired many painters. Although Kupka here devotes a major part of his composition to the sky, he accentuates it through the motif of the factories. By using very bold framing, he brings the sky and the smoking chimneys together, within the same viewpoint.
The pictorial treatment plays on contrasts. The strong shades of red harmonise with the silver of the clouds. The almost abstract mass of the sky contrasts with the more realistic verticality of the constructions.
Kupka uses the chimneys as "regulating lines", giving structure to his layout. As a sort of prelude to his later preoccupations, this repetition of narrow, straight, parallel bands heralds the rigorous stylisation characteristic of his later work. The coloured, "vertical planes" are in fact the beginnings of the abstract paintings that the artist produced in 1910 and exhibited at the Autumn Salon in 1912.

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