Paris — New York

Karel Appel

Painter - Sculptor - CoBrA

Born on 25 April 1921 in Amsterdan, Karel Appel was a dutch painter and sculptor. He was co-founder of the CoBrA movement. He died on 3 May 2006 in Zürich, Switzerland.


Karel Appel is a Dutch artist born in Amsterdam in 1921. From 1940 to 1943 he studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts in his home city, then swiftly embarked on the road to freedom. After working with the experimental group Reflex, in autumn 1948 in Paris he became one of the founders of the CoBrA group. Born out of the surrealism-revolutionary movement and in reaction to the quarrel over figuration versus abstraction, this movement brought together artists and writers from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. United by their shared interest in experimentation, naïve, primitive and popular art, they all believed that art can be practised with great freedom, released from established pathways and in association with artists from a variety of disciplines. After moving to Paris in the early 1950s, Appel would soon turn towards the American scene, where he swiftly found recognition on the East and West coasts. Throughout his 60-year career, the artist demonstrated intense creative energy, producing paintings, sculptures and engravings, often using very bright colours that celebrated his expressionist figuration. Karel Appel died on 3 May 2006 at the age of 85, in Zurich, Switzerland. His works have been the focus of many exhibitions around the world and form part of the collections of prestigious museums, including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Modern, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; National Museum of Art, Osaka and the Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain, Nice.