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Karel Appel -- A RETROSPECTIVE --

Updated on February 10, 2016

The Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag's new exhibition - Karel Apple "A RETROSPECTIVE"- consist of 67 paintings, 12 sculptures and more than 60 drawings. These media demonstrates that Karel Appel was more than just a member of the Cobra movement and more than his flamboyant personal image.

Karel Appel - Kind IV - 1951

Karel Appel, Kind IV, 1951 oil on canvas , 130,8 x 110,5 cm, collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Karel Appel, Kind IV, 1951 oil on canvas , 130,8 x 110,5 cm, collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag | Source

Internationally, Karel Appel is perhaps the most renowned Dutch artist of the latter half of the twentieth century.

Christiaan Karel Appel 25 April 1921 – 3 May 2006 was a Dutch painter, sculptor, and poet. He started painting at the age of fourteen and studied at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in the 1940s. He was one of the founders of the avant-garde movement CoBra in 1948.

Karel Apple and CoBra

The name CoBrA is an acronym of the capitals where the founding members came from: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. You pronounce CoBra On his French because French was the language of the movement. It was the main international avant- garde movement in the art of Europe immediately after the Second World War.

In 2016 it will be ten years since his death: time for a new generation of visitors to have a fresh look at an oeuvre that many people still associate with Cobra and the 1950s. Although it actually extends over a period of more than sixty years.

Karel Appel - Visage paysage No 9 - 1977


The new exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag will revisit, for example, the artist's early interest in psychopathological art, his stylistic experiments and his highly personal – and sometimes almost abstract – interpretation of traditional subjects like the nude, the portrait and the urban or rural landscape.

Karel Apple - Portrait of Rudi Fuchs - 2005

Oil and neon tubes on canvas
Oil and neon tubes on canvas | Source

The Cobra artists wish to achieve with their work a free, spontaneous expression. They wanted to return to the source of creation.They have got their inspiration by drawings and paintings of children, the mentally ill and the own handwriting as being the most personal expression.

Their spontaneous process was influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx.
When the aesthetic standards of class society would be thrown off, the natural urge to express could break loose and an overall comprehensive folk art could revive.

Karel Appel - Little Hip Hip Hoorah - 1949

Oil on canvas
Oil on canvas | Source

The exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum will be a pivotal part of a wider international reappraisal of Karel Appel's work, which is also to include exhibitions in Paris, London and Washington.

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