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Karel Appel

1921 - 2006


In 1948, the Dutch painters Karel Appel, Constant and Corneille, the Dane Jorn, and the Belgians Dotremont and Noiret, set up the Cobra movement. In their work, the Cobra artists want to realise a free and spontaneous expression. They want to go back to the source of creation, and are inspired by drawings and paintings of children and mentally ill people.
Of the Dutch Cobra artists, Karel Appel is the most radical practitioner of the call for direct expression in paint. In the Cobra years, he paints child creatures and fantasy animals in intense and clear colours. After the dissolution of Cobra in the early fifties, he develops a painting style which becomes increasingly fierce and expressionistic. He smears the paint thicker and thicker onto the canvas, in vigorous strokes and in a seemingly impulsive manner. His paintings and method – a form of action painting one might call it – cause quite a stir in the fifties. People are up in arms, and only many years later, public appreciation follows.
Appel dies in 2006 in Zurich, at the age of 85. Besides paintings, he created assemblages and sculptures. Next to that, he built up an impressive graphic oeuvre.

Appel in zijn atelier
Karel Appel in his studio (photo Nico Koster)


Approx. 1960
56 x 76 cm


22.2 x 41.3 cm

Rustende beer

Screenprint on 300gsm Salland
64.7 x 49.8 cm (sheet), 42.5 x 30.5 cm (image)

Loving heads

61 x 80 cm (sheet); 54.7 x 75.4 cm (image)

Blue faced beast

64 x 88 cm (sheet), 57.8 x 83.8 (image)