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Karel Appel

Born 1921, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Died 2006
The painter, sculptor and printmaker Karel Appel studied at the Amsterdam Academy of Art from 1940-43. He was a founder member of the CoBrA group whose members came from the cities of Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, the initial letters of which gave the group its name. Although relatively short-lived (1948 - 1951), it had a powerful influence in the art world at that time.

The CoBrA artists investigated the territory between 'banal realism' and 'orthodox abstract art'. They placed emphasis on the expressive possibilities of a gesture, arguing that marks could never be wholly abstract since they emanated from an artist's sensibility and emotion. Using vibrant and unmixed colours to create paintings of spontaneity and imagination, the CoBrA artists sought to free art from the norms of Western art movements. They took inspiration from 'primitive art', folk art, children's drawings and non-western art and their work often incorporated symbols and images which were absurd, fantastical, humorous or grotesque.

Appel's work explores a personal mythology, rendered in bright colours and bold marks. He moved to Paris in 1950 and visited the USA and Mexico in 1957 before settling in New York.

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