Frantisek Foltyn (Czechoslovakian, 1891-1976)
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Frantisek Foltyn (Czechoslovakian, 1891-1976)


Frantisek Foltyn (Czechoslovakian, 1891-1976)
signed and inscribed 'Foltyn composition' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
35 5/8 x 25½ in. (90.5 x 65 cm.)
Painted in 1927
Anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 9 December 1990, lot 26.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Altenburg, Lindenau-Museum, Internationale Sprachen der Kunst: Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Skulpturen der Klassischen Moderne aus der Sammlung Hoh, August - October 1998, no. 22 (illustrated p. 69); this exhibition later travelled to Osnabrück, Kulturgeschichtliches Museum Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall and Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum.
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Lot Essay

In Frantisek Foltn's Composition of 1927, intersecting geometric shapes are used to organise and contain a centripetal composition of organically inspired amorphous forms. This harmonious arrangement of contrasting elements, executed in irregularly textured and modulated zones of muted colour, represent Foltn's theories about the underlying rhythms of the cosmos, which link space, music, rhythm, form and colour into a cohesive and abstract whole.

Composition was produced four years after Foltn moved to Paris from Brno and is a manifestation of the dramatic transformation his artistic ambitions underwent after his encounter with contemporary abstract artists. From 1923-1924, Foltn studied at the Académie Julian and the Académie Grande-Chaumière, where he attended the lectures of fellow Czech artist, Frantisek Kupka. Kupka spoke to his students about French history and civilization, ethics and philosophy, and encouraged freethinking and individuality in art. Inspired by these lessons, Foltn gradually developed his own laws of abstraction based on a synthesis between Cubist and biomorphic principles. Foltn's abstract pictures were first exhibited in Paris at the end of 1927 in the Au Sacre du printemps gallery, a meeting place for artists supported by patrons of abstract art Michel Seuphor and Paul Dermée. Out of these meetings was born the Cerclé et Carré movement and the Abstraction-Création group, which united artists whose principal interests lay in geometric abstraction. Although Foltn was not among the instigators of the abstract in Paris, his activities and his art were instrumental in introducing nonfigurative art to his native country, providing many post-war Czech artists with a distinctive model for the autonomous relations of line, colour and space.

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