Kupka and The Butter Plate: Peace

Kupka and The Butter Plate: Peace

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  • Sometimes we pacify ...

    KUPKA Frantisek (1871 - 1957)

  • ... Not always

    KUPKA Frantisek (1871 - 1957)

To close

Title: Sometimes we pacify ...

Author : KUPKA Frantisek (1871 - 1957)

Creation date : 1904

Date shown: August 20, 1904

Dimensions: Height 60 cm - Width 44.5 cm

Technique and other indications: Paris, Musée d'Orsay, in the Louvre museum. Butter Plate Number: La Paix (n ° 177, August 20, 1904)

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Thierry Le Mage (C) ADAGP, Paris

Picture reference: 01-021936 / RF52520-recto

Sometimes we pacify ...

© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Thierry Le Mage (C) ADAGP, Paris

To close

Title: ... Not always

Author : KUPKA Frantisek (1871 - 1957)

Creation date : 1904 -

Date shown: August 20, 1904

Dimensions: Height 60 cm - Width 45 cm

Technique and other indications: Paris, Musée d'Orsay, in the Louvre museum. Butter Plate Number: La Paix (n ° 177, August 20, 1904)

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Thierry Le Mage (C) ADAGP, Paris

Picture reference: 01-021944 / RF52521-recto

© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Thierry Le Mage (C) ADAGP, Paris

Publication date: March 2018

Historical context

War and Peace ... social

Czech painter and illustrator who emigrated to Paris in 1896, Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957) collaborates with The Butter Plate from the beginning of the review. The thirst for revenge which animated the French after the War of 1870, the colonial appetites which were sharpened since the 1880s, or the various imperialist aims lead the great powers to arm themselves more and more, against a backdrop of patriotic propaganda. The conference and The Martyr of Peace are thus directly devoted to the peace conference of The Hague which took place in 1899, when Pax vobiscum insists on the bellicose - and falsely peaceful - relations between European countries; a vague game of alliances also considered from the angle of capitalist profit (The bases of the European balance). Others denounce haphazardly the cultural domination of military action among children educated in violence (In Week and On Sunday); the apology for war on a nationalist background (And long live the army); the alliance of the army with religion (See you soon); the role of industrialists (The inventor of squash, 80,000 deaths per hundredth of a second) or war as a tool of oppression of the people (the double page You should fuck us ...).

However, We sometimes pacify ... and… Not always stand out from the military issue and make no explicit reference to the military. Here, "peace" and "war" are viewed from a social and political perspective.

Image Analysis

Subdued people, rebellious people

We sometimes pacify ... features one of the typical characters of Kupka - already featured in the issue on MoneyMr. Capital (inspired by representations of Mammon, biblical demon of greed)1. A great industrial capitalist (the factories in the background), the bourgeois with a big belly filled with gold coins wearing a top hat and elegant suit visits his workers to give them alms by the way, without getting out of his luxurious coupé car driven by two coachmen. The workers make up only an indistinct mass, from which emerge the few marked faces of those who come begging for a coin in a submissive and obsequious attitude. The people here are submissive and divided: from the uncertain crowd, momentarily and as if by chance a few figures without pride emerge, simple figures bent, servile and isolated from any collective enthusiasm.

Sure Not always, the people gathered not far from the Bastille (the July Column and the genie are visible in the center). The red flag flies and the sometimes wounded insurgents (the blood on the arm of the figure on the right) have taken up arms (bayonet rifles, a large pliers, a kind of sword) to rise up. At the point of a bayonet or - more original - caught in the vise of the pliers, we see two heads of beheaded oppressors: a crowned sovereign and an owner (see the "private property" sign). The people here are revolutionary: vigorous, beautiful and proud, in unison. Here, the recognizable individualities in the front row (the woman, the man with the red flag) flourish, both carried by the breath of anger that animates the crowd and bearers of this deployed collective physical power.


Revolution (s)

If guns, brutality and fury are not absent from We sometimes pacify ... and of … Not always (the big pliers, the sword, the bayonet rifle and the two beheaded of Not always), this time it is about the class struggle or, at least, the "war" of the people against the industrial and capitalist oligarchy.

The current social order is described as unjust and unequal, where the opulence of Mr. Capital and his crew on one side, and the mass of workers on the other. This order seems fragile, which rests only on the very scarce charity (one piece) - and not on the fair distribution of the fruits of the labor - that deign sometimes to make the dominant to the working classes to buy "peace". Working classes who also appear too docile, too grateful and too submissive, as shown by the attitude of those who come in the way of the boss.

But it doesn't and won't work not always : the people can regain their dignity, their strength, their pride (the rounded torsos, the protruding muscles of Not always) but also its unity in a sudden explosion of revolutionary violence. This has happened in the past and could (may) happen again, sweeping away both political power (crowned heads) and financial power (private property).

We sometimes pacify ... and… Not always therefore function both as a reminder of the Revolution and a call to it, borrowing from historical symbols (1789 with the Bastille) and from political references (socialist utopias, Marxism or the Commune with the red flag, the world worker, the mention of private property) to predict, wish and design another possible future.

1. This iconographic type probably refers to the Rothschild by Charles Léandre on the cover of the humorous review The laugh from 1898, but other iconographic sources are possible. Perhaps it should be clarified that this kind of representation is strictly for Kupka a social criticism, but in no way anti-Semitism. Kupka is far from it, as he has always said and as he has proven by his life and his actions.THEINHARDT (Markéta), "František Kupka, cartoonist", in LEAL (B.), THEINHARDT (M.) and BRULLE (P.), Kupka, pioneer of abstraction, cat. expo., Paris, Grand Palais, National Galleries, (March 21 - July 30, 2018), Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux - Grand Palais, 2018.
  • anarchism
  • pacifism
  • capitalist
  • proletarian
  • peace
  • Paris
  • demonstrations
  • red flag
  • anti-nationalism
  • antimilitarism
  • The Butter Plate
  • Bastille
  • satirical press
  • Marxism


CHALUPA, Pavel, François Kupka at The Butter Plate, Prague, Chamarré, 2008.

DIXMIER, Elisabeth and Michel, L’Assiette au Beurre: illustrated satirical review, 1901-1912, Paris, François Maspero, 1974.

TENTH, Michel, When the pencil attacks: satirical images and public opinion in France, 1814-1918, Paris, Éditions Autrement, 2007.

DROZ, Jacques, (dir.), General history of socialism, t. 2, Paris, PUF, 1978-1979.

MAITRON, Jean, The anarchist movement in France, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Tel", 1992.

HOUTE, Arnaud-Dominique, The triumph of the Republic, 1871-1914 Paris, Seuil, 2014.

VACHTOVA, Ludmila, Frantisek Kupka, Prague, Odeon, 1967.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Kupka and L’Assiette au Beurre: La Paix"

Video: Making a Butter Keeper


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  2. Nele

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  3. Tutilar

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  4. Toltecatl

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  6. Ketaxe

    gee in the drive ...

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