25.04.1921 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) - 03.05.2006 (Zürich, Switzerland)
Appel was born in 1921 in Amsterdam. He attented the Royal Academy in his hometown from 1940 until 1946, selling his first works to small dealers and friends. He lived in a time in which several new art forms were emerging, just after World War II. In 1948, three young artists formed a group in Amsterdam and published a journal called Reflex. These artists were Appel, Corneille and Constant. Resolutely opposed to De Stijl, and particularly to Mondriaan, they gave expression to a fabulous world of imaginary birds, moon crescents, and childish characters. From the meetings of these artists in Amsterdam, together with a Danish painter, called Asger Jorn and a Belgian poet called Christian Dotremont, an international movement arose, which lasted for three years from 1948 until 1951. CoBrA is an acronym formed from the initial letters from the capitals Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. The artists shared a spontaneity and frankness in their work and sought to portray their subject matter as a child would paint or as they conceived a child would paint. They also shared a love for Primitive Art, among others Douanier Rousseau.The artists had in common a spontaneity and frankness in their work and sought to portray their subject matter as a child paint or as they conceived a child would paint it. They also shared a love for the Primitive Art, from among others Douanier Rousseau.The year 1954 marks a new stage in Appels work, subject matter becoming more important than color. Also paste invades his painting, which becomes creamy and frothy, giving the painting a depth and strongness, such as this work Howling Wind, painted in 1957.There is a sort of jubilation in his work, gathering up al he had learned from his earlier period, displaying qualities which propel him to the front of the international artistic scene. It was then that Appel became, and has remained, one of the most original artists of our time.
J.A. Emmens en E. de Jongh, 'De kunsttheorie van Cobra, 1848-1948', Simiolus 1 (1966-1967), p. 51-64;
W. Stokvis, 'De Stijl en Cobra. Nederlands tegenstrijdige bijdrage aan de kunst van de twintigste eeuw - tegenstellingen, parallellen, overeenkomsten!', Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 7 (1988), p. 183-213;
W. Stokvis, Cobra - Geschiedenis, voorspel en betekenis van een beweging in de kunst van na de tweede wereldoorlog, Amsterdam, 1990;
W. Stokvis, Alles van waarde is weerloos, s'-Hertogenbosch (Museum Het Kruithuis) 1993, p. 31-43;
W. Stokvis, E. Wingen, L.Duppen [red.], De Taal van Cobra: Cobra en haar bronnen: Museumcollectie Van Stuijvenberg, Amstelveen (Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst), 1995, p. 279-280;
J. van Adrichem, De ontvangst van de moderne kunst in Nederland 1910-2000. Picasso als pars pro toto, Amsterdam 2001, p. 240;
P. Shield, 'The 1949 Cobra Exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. A Substantive Reconstruction', Jong Holland 22 (2006), nr. 1, p. 8-18;
H. den Hartog Jager, Kunst per post, Den Haag (Museum Escher in het Paleis) 2006;
E. van Berne, 'Samenwerking of werken in opdracht? Naoorlogse projecten van JJP Oud met monumentale kunst van Karel Appel', Kunstlicht nr. 3/4, 2010.
'Appel, Constant en Corneille', Amstelveen (Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst), 2011;
'Karel Appel - Jazz 1958-1962', Amstelveen (Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst), 2008;
'Kunst per post', Den Haag (Museum Escher in het Paleis) 2006;
'Karel Appel Beelden 1936 - 2000', Amstelveen (Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst), 2001;
'Karel Appel. Psychopathological Art', Amstelveen (Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst), 1999;
'Alles van waarde is weerloos', s'-Hertogenbosch (Museum Het Kruithuis) 1993;
Work by Karel Appel can be found in the following museum collections: Guggenheim Museum, New York, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Spain, Haifa Museum, Israel, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, Tate Gallery, London, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.