Magazine article Art Monthly

Karel Appel 1921-2006

Magazine article Art Monthly

Karel Appel 1921-2006

Article excerpt

Karel Appel, who died on May 3, has always been linked with the art group that he helped to found in Paris in 1948, and was named CoBrA in acknowledgement of the origins of the group's main participants in Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. Appel's mature style--a direct, spontaneous, intuitive and expressive creation of images without following a preconceived plan--was achieved as a result of his contact with Jean Dubuffet and his notion of an Art Brut, and the particular way in which this built on an approach to painting that had previously rested in the example of Picasso. From this time Appel made a name for himself for his characteristically expressive and violent style of painting that tore between figuration and abstraction, the result of a childlike vision that was rarely playful; he declared 'If I paint like a barbarian, it's because we live in a barborous age'. Although the work of Appel and his CoBrA colleagues--primarily Asger Jorn, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Corneille (Cornelis van Beverloo) and Christian Dotremont--is often linked with the contemporaneous, yet unrelated, emergence of American Abstract Expressionism, for Appel and similar minded artists in Europe, the role of Art Brut's view of so-called primitive, child and outsider art was of far greater significance in the formation of an artistic outlook and vocabulary than the largely Surrealist underpinnings of Abstract Expressionism. …

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