Karel Appel

Karel Appel was an influential Dutch painter whose figurative abstractions employed expressive shapes and colors. Like Jean Dubuffet, Appel was inspired by children’s artwork and a rejection of sophisticated aesthetic tastes. “Painting, like passion, is an emotion full of truth and sounds a living sound, like the roar coming from the lion’s chest,” he reflected. “To paint is to destroy what came before. I never try to make a painting, but a piece of life”. Born on April 25, 1921 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, he studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten and had his first solo exhibition in 1946. Inspired by the work of Paul Klee and Joan Miró, Appel began experimenting with a rudimentary approach to depicting subjects reminiscent of folk art. In 1948, he helped form the CoBrA group (an acronym for the artists’ home cities of Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam), along with Asger Jorn, Constant, Corneille and others who were united in their rejection of rationalism and geometric abstraction. After the dissolution of CoBrA in 1952, Appel joined Art Informel, another collection of abstract artists that included Michel Tapié and Henri Michaux. Throughout the following decades, the artist continued his commitment to pictorial expression and was the subject of several solo exhibitions. He died on May 3, 2006 in Zurich, Switzerland. Appel’s works are currently in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.