Karel Appel 100 - Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst

Karel Appel 100

Sunday 25 Apr 2021 until Sunday 24 Oct 2021

On the occasion of the 100th birthday of Karel Appel (Amsterdam, 1921-Zürich, 2006), the museum opens an exhibition with the most beautiful works of Karel Appel from its own collection, supplemented with a number of special loans. We will, of course, celebrate his birthday with a festive programme on that Sunday.

Karel Appel, Vragende kinderen, 1947, collection Cobra Museum

Until the early 1950s, children and their uninhibited way of working were two important themes in his work. From about 1954, Appel’s interaction with the material, with the paint itself, began to play an increasingly important role. The paint was applied to the canvas in increasingly thick layers and with large expressive gestures. This development in Appel’s work is illustrated in two chapters on the basis of works from the museum’s collection and a number of loans from a Belgian private collection that have rarely or never been exhibited in the Cobra Museum.

Record price for Karel Appel
This exhibition features works by Karel Appel from the period 1947-1961. One of the most important acquisitions in the museum’s history dates from this period: almost 20 years ago, in 2002, the museum purchased the 1951 work Women, children, animals at an auction for a record sum of $750,000.

Cobra movement and Appel
Karel Appel is one of the most famous Dutch post-war artists. He was co-founder of the influential Cobra movement (1948-1951), which tossed out all traditional rules in painting. For many, Appel’s work is emblematic of this movement, which produced colourful and spontaneous art, and saw children and fantasy creatures as important subjects. This year he would have turned 100, which is why the Cobra Museum is devoting special attention to his work.

Karel Appel, Untitled, 1967, Collection Cobra Museum for Modern Art Amstelveen / acquired with generous support of  BankGiro Loterij

High-level dabbling
Karel Appel is known for a number of statements that were often taken too literally, such as: ‘I’m just messing around’. We now know that he was not as impulsive as these and other statements by him would suggest. With his personality, his daring use of materials and his rejection of intellectual theories, Appel did have a strong (visual) influence on the other Dutch Cobra artists. His work was initially less favourably received by the press and the public. When he took part in the major Cobra exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, for example, the press referred to Appel as an ‘incompetent dabbler’. Partly because of the narrow-minded climate in the Netherlands, he decided to leave for cosmopolitan Paris in 1950.