Karel Appel

Karel Appel - Galerie Max Hetzler

A founding figure of CoBrA (1948-1951), Karel Appel began his career in the aftermath of the Second World War – a period of intense artistic experimentation in which representation came under increasing scrutiny. Over the course of six decades, he experimented widely, across painting, sculpture, graphic arts, and stage design, distinguishing himself for his astonishing capacity to innovate. Going beyond his classical, academic training at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam, he looked at the works of Bonnard, Klee, Dubuffet and de Kooning, whilst also drawing from Surrealism’s psychological foundations and jazz’s spirit of improvisation. Appel adopted a material-oriented approach, promoting a genuine form of expression, an art “divorced from any political or didactic purpose”.

The Appel effect represents painting and sculpture at their best. It is close to the heart, animalistic, idealistic and thoroughly experimental. It playfully combines ideology with matter and form, and pushes us beyond the boundaries imposed by the human condition.

K. Ottmann, ’The Appel Effect’, in: Karel Appel. Retrospective, exh. cat., Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague; Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2016, p. 46

Image: Karel Appel, Nude no. 32, 1995, © Karel Appel Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2019

Selected Institutional Exhibitions