Frightened Cat


Karel Appel


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Color lithograph on paper.

Karel Appel, (1921-2006), was a Dutch painter, sculptor, muralist and poet. He is best known as a founding member of the CoBra art group. His formal training was at the Rijksakademe in Amsterdam between 1942 and 1944. In 1948, the experimental CoBrA group was founded in Paris. The name was formed by combining the first letters of Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, which were the cities of the founding members. The group was responding to the structure of the European avant-garde art movements as Surrealism and they also rejected the history of figurative painting. Their art favored the artistic styles inspired by young children and that of untutored artists. The use of vivid color, the bold use of line and playful subject matter were used in their work. Circus themes and animals were abstracted to form images associated with young creative development. Karel Appel frequently described the CoBrA philosophy in his writings as a destruction of the art of the past. "The CoBrA group started new, and first of all we threw away all of the things we had known and started afresh, like a child-fresh and new. Sometimes my works look very childish, or child-like, schizophrenic or stupid, you know. But that was a good thing for me. Because, for me, the material is the paint itself. The paint expresses itself. In the mass of paint, I find my imagination and go on to paint it." After the group disbanded in 1951, Karel Appel continued his research on the subconscious mind and the creative art of hospital patients.