Karel Appel et al.

Disonata. Art in Sound up to 1980 (group show)
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
23 September 2020 – 1 March 2021

Karel Appel in Phonogram Studio, during the project Musique barbare, 1963. Photo B&W. Nederlands Fotomuseum, © Ed van der Elsken
Karel Appel in Phonogram Studio, during the project Musique barbare, 1963. Photo B&W. Nederlands Fotomuseum, © Ed van der Elsken

Curated by Maike Aden, on an original project by Guy Schraenen, this exhibition analyses the development of sound as a creative field of visual arts differentiated from music, from the beginning to the end of the 20th century. The exhibition reflects the efforts of artists who resorted to sound beyond its traditional use in such manifestations as music, poetry or theatre.

By way of introduction, the exhibition includes references to the historical avant-garde; specifically to Futurism, Dadaism and Russian cinema, stopping at pioneering works of media permeability, such as Relâche, Erik Satie, Francis Picabia and René Clair, as well as at futurist experiments materialised in the intonarumori or optophonic poems of Dada, both visual and sound.

The emergence in the middle of the century of technological devices for recording and processing sound expanded the creative possibilities surrounding sound. For example, the exhibition highlights the verbo-vocal research that, following the Dadaist trail, was carried out by lyricism in its drive to do away with language and culture as they had been known up to then. The attempts to "free music" from its more academic and restrictive norms will be reflected in the work of artists such as Karel Appel or Jean Dubuffet. On the other hand, large-scale projects such as the Phillips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels Universal Exhibition represent paradigmatic experiences that modified the relationship of sound and acoustics with the rest of the arts, demonstrating that everything participates in the same way in the sensitive experience.

The exhibition continues with a room dedicated to the intersections of the object and sound, with works by artists such as Jean Tinguely, the Baschet brothers or Nam June Paik. Fluxus processes, projects and performances will shape the next section, articulated by works by such fundamental figures as John Cage, who inspired many of these borderline creative practices.

The exhibition is articulated with the parallel presentation of a series of sound pieces and diverse materials (from drawings and scores to sculptures, films and photographs) that, as a whole, show a non-visual side of the plastic arts that began to emerge with the avant-garde movements themselves.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía


Karel Appel, Navid Nuur et al.

CoBrA. The colour of freedom (group show)
Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam
1 June – 4 October 2020

How is it supposed to be? The artists of the CoBrA group did not consider this important at all. They completely disregarded the academy’s rules.

Directly after World War II, they were in need off a free way of painting. And that included colour. They often painted animals and fantasy creatures. But their war past is also visible on their canvases.

CoBrA, the colour of freedom contains more than twenty paintings, some sculptures and two ceramic bowls. You can see the Primal Animal and The Wild Boy by Karel Appel and other masterpieces by Constant, Corneille, Eugène Brands, Anton Rooskens and Lotti van der Gaag. All art is part of the museum collection, the museum purchased CoBrA work in the early 1950s.

Stedelijk Museum Schiedam

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