31 July 2009


Christiaan Karel Appel, born 1921 in Amsterdam, was a founding member of the aforementioned group CoBrA. Appel took a liking to painting around the age of 15, and has since produced works found in most major museums throughout the world.  Appel's style is thick, colorful brushtrokes, exhibiting vibrant and emotional qualities. His paintings are a bridge between abstraction and figurative work, with themes of intuition versus reason, child-like freedom and unrepressed expression. The Artbook notes that Appel created works "demonstrating that energy and spontaneity were more important than rationality and design."

"Hip Hip Hoorah," 1949, is located at the Tate Gallery in London. This was the piece chosen by the Artbook and is quite representative of the type of work that the CoBrA group was looking to do. On the Tate's website, they quote Appel as having described his piece in these terms: "...the more human figures as male (far left) and female (centre). The creature with two heads (top right) displays both human and bird attributes and the fourth figure (bottom right) is ‘inbetween a woman with a breast and an animal’. For Appel the black background signified ‘the black of night’ and the creatures were ‘people of the night’. "

I found this piece quite interesting, as well. Entitled "Energy," this piece was completed in 1950 and is held at the Hirshhorn. I found the medium really intriguing- "gouache and paper and plastic collage on paper mounted to canvas." The multimedia elements and incorporation of words into this piece make it quite experimental and unusual for the time. Out of all that I've seen, I think this piece looks ahead the most. A very avant-garde approach for Appel.

The pieces below are all from MoMA, and I chose to include them because I think there's a strong connection in each to the work that Alechinsky was producing. Here a connection can be drawn in terms of the influence of style and approach the CoBrA members had one one another.

"Front cover from Appel, Frie Kunstnere Volume 3"
"Toi at Moi," 1963

"With Two Brushes (A Deux Pinceaux)," 1978

Appel died in 2006, but is still quite present in the art world. The Karel Appel Foundation, established before his death, works still to preserve his artwork and purpose. 

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