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Karel Appel

Dutch, 1921-2006

Born in 1921 Amsterdam, Karel Appel is one of the most renowned Post-War Dutch Expressionist artists, as well as a founding member of the CoBrA group. Skilled in sculpture, print making and ceramics, Appel is mainly recognised for his expressive and vivid, childlike paintings and murals. Appel attributed his early influences to Picasso, Matisse and Jean Dubuffet but he was especially interested in Paul Klee and Joan Miro’s simplistic and naïve form.

In 1948 Appel co-founded the infamous CoBrA movement, alongside school mate Corneille and close friends Constant, Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont and Joseph Noiret. They followed a common desire to distance themselves from existing art movements and instead focused on the expression of spontaneity, something which Appel believed was captured in Children’s arts. He incorporated folk and children’s art into his own and formed a distinctive and identifiable style.

In 1954 Appel represented the Netherlands at the Venice Biennale, where he was awarded the UNESCO prize, and by the 1960s he had gained further institutional success with exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.

Appel died in his home in Zurich, Switzerland in 2006

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