Biography of Karel Appel (1921-2006)

Dutch expressionist painter, one of the founders of the Cobra group, born on April 25, 1921 in Amsterdam and died in Zurich on May 3, 2006.

Between 1940 and 1943 he/she studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. In 1946 he/she made his first individual exhibition in the Beerenhuis of Groningen and participated in the exhibition Jonge Schilders in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In this period his work has influences, first of Picasso and Matisse, and after Dubuffet. He/She took part in the Nerderlanse Experimentele Groep, and in 1948 founded the Cobra group along with Constant, Corneille and others. The Group emphasizes the importance of the use of materials, and although it had a short life, its basic ideas found expression in the work of Appel. isolated from humans or animals figures, made during the 1950s, are represented in a direct way, without any attempt to model or create a perspective illusion. In 1949 made a fresh Municipal restaurant in Amsterdam that caused so much scandal as so that it stays covered for ten years.

In 1950, in Paris, he/she met Michel Tapié, organized by several exhibitions. In 1953 was an individual in the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, in 1954 he/she received the Unesco prize at the Venice Biennale, and in 1956 he/she was tasked with a mural for the Stedelijk Museum restaurant. Example of his paintings from this period is 1956 crocodile, which is represented in a way flat and immobile, outlined by heavy black lines, as in the drawings of children; the way in which color is applied creates a frantic rhythmic movement, despite the static monumentality of the figure, growing emotional intensity, using violent contrasts of color. The following year he/she visited Mexico and United States, and was awarded a prize for engraving at the Biennale in Lubaina in Yugoslavia.

In 1959 he/she received the international prize of painting in the Bienal de São Paulo. The first important monograph on his work, written by Hugo Claus, was published in 1962. At the end of the 1960s settled in the castle of Molesmes, alongside Auxerres, Southeast of Paris. In 1968, the National Center of contemporary art in Paris and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam presented solo exhibitions of his work, as well as the Kunsthalle in Basel and the Palais de Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 1969. In the 1950s and 1960s he/she made several murals for public buildings; in 1972 a major exhibition took place at the Central Museum in Utrecht and a touring retrospective by Canada and the United States. He/She lived his last years between Paris and New York.


FLINT, Lucy, the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, (New York, 1983).