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Disks of Newton (Study for “Fugue in Two Colors”)

M. Therese Southgate, MD
JAMA. 2008;299(15):1750. doi:10.1001/jama.299.15.1750.
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The modern Czech painter František Kupka (1871-1957) aspired to do in color what Johann Sebastian Bach had done in sound: create pure form. Nothing so grand as a Mass or a chorale perhaps, but something more akin to a fugue, something in which the music becomes its own subject. Traditionally, from Giotto to Picasso, painting had always begun with an object and then, based on the artist's creative vision, the object was translated to a two-dimensional surface. The object could be imitated, duplicated, edited, distorted, but the picture always maintained its origins in the object. Even the seemingly unreadable Cubist forms of Braque and Picasso took their beginnings from a concrete object, something they had carefully observed, whether a tree, a landscape, or a woman's face.

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František Kupka (1871-1957), Disks of Newton (Study for “Fugue in Two Colors”), 1912, Czech, active in France. Oil on canvas. 100.3 × 73.7 cm. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (http://www.philamuseum.org/), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950. © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, New York/ADAGP, Paris, France.



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