Czech news site CTK reports on the record sale of Frantisek Kupka’s The Shape of Blue:
The Shape of Blue (1913) by Frantisek Kupka was sold to a Russian-speaking foreign collector for 55.75 million crowns at a Prague auction today, which has been the highest auction price ever paid for a Czech work of art. Including the auction surcharge, the picture cost 57.42 million crowns.
The Russian-speaking collector was one of the three people who took part in the picture´s auction, willing to pay over 50 million for the work. All three took part by phone, but one of them did not submit any bid. Until now, the record price was paid for Movement, also by Kupka, that was auctioned in London last year for an equivalent of 35.5 million crowns. The record price paid at a Czech art auction was 22.1 million crowns until now, for which Kupka´s Elevation IV was sold five years ago.
Kupka (1871-1957) is considered one of the fathers of abstract art of painting. The Shape of Blue is probably the last picture from the famous Jindrich Waldes collection that appeared on the market. In 1999, the Czech National Gallery bought seven paintings by Kupka from the Waldes collection for the total price of 100 million crowns, including Cosmic Spring I worth 25 million.
Vladimir Lekes, from Adolf Loos Apartment & Gallery that organised the Prague auction today, told CTK that he is surprised very much that The Shape of Blue with a reserve price of 45 million crowns was sold for such a high sum.
Radio Prague adds some background. You can listen above or read an excerpt below:
“It is one of the earliest examples of abstract painting, because the very first abstract painting was exhibited in 1912 and that was Kupka’s Amorpha, which is now on display at Prague’s National Gallery. And he started painting the Shape of Blue in 1913, so it is a really early example of abstract art and in the past ten years, a comparable picture has not been on the market.”
So that could be one of the reasons why it broke the Czech art auction record, selling for 55.75 million Czech crowns. What significance does this record have?
“For the Czech market, it means that this new record is almost double of the previous one, which was also held by a Kupka painting. But he also is really the only Czech artist who is internationally known and in the collections of all the major international art museums, and that makes him interesting for foreign buyers as well and this buyer was supposedly a Russian collector. But if we look at the price of this painting in pounds, it actually isn’t that high. It is high for Kupka but not if you compare it to other painters of his generation.”
Kupka’s Shape of Blue sets new Czech art auction record (Radio Prague)