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Karel Appel was born in Amsterdam in 1921. He studied at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. He first became interested in modern French painting, then went on to explore other expressive techniques. In 1948 he formed the "Reflex" group with Constant and Corneille. In the same year, he founded the 'COBRA' group in Paris with Constant, Corneille, Asger Jorn and Pierre Alechinsky. The group, which brought together artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, proposed a reinterpretation of expressionism in an informal and ironic key, contrary to the rigour and order of rationalist currents such as De Stijl. Karel Appel is one of the most important painters on the Dutch and European post-war art scene. In 1948 he was one of the main representatives of the 'COBRA' manifesto, the art group named after the three European capitals from which its members came. The idea of COBRA was to oppose bourgeois naturalism, placing itself as an alternative to the main artistic currents in order to achieve a new representation of reality. On a formal level, Jorn, Alechinsky, Appel and their companions combined different components: the imagery of Nordic culture, the automatism of the Surrealists, the use of harsh, mellow colours and the distortion of form belonging to Expressionism. The result is an aggressive style of painting, which retains a figurative imprint full of ironic and grotesque overtones. In this context, Appel favours painting based on colour. Colour is applied in thick, mellow brushstrokes, with primary colours predominating and black being the dominant colour. From the chromatic chaos emerge anthropomorphic forms similar to grotesque puppets, rough heads and animal-like shapes. The harsh and aggressive charge of the works of the 1950s diminished from the second half of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s. The texture is now softer and the images become clearer and sharper. There is no longer the struggle of the past, but a search for space. From the early 1980s onwards, Appel's works underwent a return to the hard, violent painting of his earlier years. In line with the script of Neo-Expressionist painting, he enlarged the dimensions of the paintings. He reloaded his brushes with the colours of the past and dumped them onto the canvas, but following a preordained plan. The result is works of incredible expressive and chromatic power. His graphic work is also extensive and captivating. He died in Zurich in 2006.Read more Close