Appel, Karel

Karel Appel is a Dutch painter and sculptor born in Amsterdam on April 25, 1921. Discover all our works in our art gallery in Paris.

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Karel Appel is a Dutch painter and sculptor born in Amsterdam on April 25, 1921. He began painting at the age of fourteen, and from 1940 to 1943 trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam. His first exhibitions date from 1946, with works strongly inspired by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Jean Dubuffet. In 1948, he joined the Dutch Experimental Group, which brought together artists such as Constant and Asger Jorn, CrowAnton Rooskens, Theo Wolvecamp, Jan Nieuwenhuys and Eugène Brands. This group already heralded the beginnings of the magazine Cobra which in the same year marked the birth of the CoBrA movement, which Appel founded with poets Christian Dotremont and Joseph Noiret, and painters Constant, Corneille, Asger Jorn and Jan Nieuwenhuys. Artists such as Pierre Alechinsky, Carl-Henning Pedersenor Jean-Michel Atlanare part of this movement. The name CoBrA is an acronym for "Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam", named after the cities of residence of the founding members. The group was born out of the quarrel between abstraction and figuration, through a way of thinking theorized by Corneille, which rejects realism and rationalism in favor of intuition, free expression and the pleasure of freeing one's imagination on canvas. From 1950 onwards, Appel settled in Paris and made a name for himself with numerous trips to Mexico, the United States, Yugoslavia and Brazil. After the dissolution of CoBrA in 1951, he joined Art Informel, another group of abstract artists that included Michel Tapié, Henri Michaux, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Sam Francis, and whose thinking also emphasized the unforeseen and impulsive. 1954 saw his first American exhibition at the Martha Jackson Gallery. The following year, he took part in the exhibition The New Decade at the Museum of Modern Art, including young artists such as Francis Bacon, Jean Dubuffet and Pierre Soulages. Karel Appel's reputation grew even stronger in the years that followed. From the 90s onwards, major exhibitions in Amsterdam and Brussels and at the CoBrA Museum in Amstelveen established him as the best-known CoBrA artist. He died in Zurich on May 3, 2006.

Appel and printmaking

Over the course of his career, Appel has varied his techniques. He worked extensively in sculpture, but also in printmaking. Engravings, lithographs and serigraphs are all mediums through which he expresses a "primitive" gestural style, with childlike connotations and very strong, often provocative colors. In this way, Appel extends the influence of Dubuffet and Art Brut, while asserting his own aesthetic, with spontaneous choices of color, line and form.