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Karel Appel

"I spread the paint with palette knives or with my hands, sometimes whole pots at one time."


Notes of biography

Karel Appel was born in 1921 in Amsterdam, Holland. He attends the Academy of Fine Arts of Amsterdam from 1940-1943, at the same time as his friend Corneille. He shows interest in Picasso, Klee and Matisse and his work is thus influenced by these artists.
He has his first exhibition in 1946, and meets Constant the following year.
In 1948, he participates with Corneille and Constant, in the creation of an experimental group, the « Reflex », who enter in opposition with geometric abstraction already dominant in Holland in the wake of Mondrian and Van Doesburg.
In perfect accordance with them, the group joins the Cobra movement in 1949, notably agreeing with their desire to experiment with collective creations, materials and techniques. This will be for Appel, an era of anthropomorphic assemblage and of tridimensional paintings.
The artist moves to Paris in 1950. He now paints violent works, painting with signs and materials, works devoid of all reference to reality. The demanding nature of the Cobra group finds itself, in the same era of “American action paintings”.
A little later on, Appel realizes that his multicolored expression poorly accommodates an informal void, also his works lean towards a return towards infantile or primitive designs, the artist reconstructs his own usage of “graphism in a wild state”. Appel now makes allusion to figuration, with imaginary landscapes, undefined animals and sorrowful nudes.
In 1957, the year of his first visit to the United States, Appel paints a series of Jazz musician (Count Basie, Miles Davis, etc.) and other series follow (nudes, portraits, etc.). He strives to transcribe again the violent sentiments by which he inspired the world.
In 1964, he starts to work on large polychrome reliefs, then on wood and polyester sculptures.
In 1976, Appel collaborates with inhabitants of the shanty towns of Lima, Peru to paint murals.
Tireless, he pursues his work: painting, graphics, reliefs, etc. He explores lithographs, sculpture, collage, murals, stainglass and mixed techniques. Appel collects scraps and urban waste that he integrates into his canvas, showing his anger that he carries with him, his part of violence and a means also to exorcize them.
Karel Appel died in Zurich on May 11, 2006.

Artists on display

The art and the artists display: proclamations, galleries, museums, personal or collective exhibitions. On walls or in shop windows, wise or rebels, posters warn, argue, show. Some were specially conceived by an artist for such or such event, other, colder, have only the letter.

Some were created in lithographic technic, most are simple offset reproductions. They are many those who like collecting these rectangles of paper, monochrome or in games of colours, in matt paper or brilliant, with many words or almost dumb.

We are happy also to be able to greet, by this pages, mythical galleries as those of Denise René, Louis Carré, Claude Bernard, Berheim Jeune, Maeght, Pierre Loeb and others.


Complete work(s)

Complete work(s)
*« Karel Appel, Peintures de 1937 à 1957 », M. Ragon, Ed. Galilée, Paris, 1988 *« Les sculptures », D. Kuspit, New York, 1994 All the complete works

Bibliographic track and more

To read about the artist :
  • « Karel Appel painter », H. Klaus, Strengolt, Amsterdam, 1962
  • « Karel Appel, de 1943 à 1967 », P. Bellew, Fabbri, Milan, 1967
  • « Street Art de Karel Appel », P. Restany, Galilée, Paris, 1982
  • « Karel Appel : De Cobra à un art autre », M. Ragon, coll. Débats, Ed. Galilée,
  • « Karel Appel, œuvres sur papier », J-C. Lambert, Cercle d’Art, 1988
  • « Karel Appel : The early years, 1937-1957 », M. Ragon, Ed. Galilée, 1988
  • « Karel Appel, carnet d'art psychopathologique », R. Fuchs, Ed. Ides & Calendes, 2000
  • « Oeuvres sur papier », collectif, Ed. Centre Pompidou - Sievering Verlag, 2015
  • «Karel Appel : Retrospective », coll., cat. d'expo., Buchhandlung W. Konig Verl., 2016
  • « Karel Appel », coll., cat., M.A.M. Ville de Paris, Ed. Paris Musées, 2017
To read from the artist :
  • « Appel’s appels », Rothmans of Pall Mall, Canada, 1972
  • « Propos en liberté de K. A. », F. de Towarnicki, A. Verdet, Ed. Galilée, 1985
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Art movements

+ COBRA / 1948-1952 / Christian Dotremont, etc.
All art movements

See & discover

Beyond works currently in stock, it seemed to me useful to combine business with pleasure by letting you discover others works by artists in my gallery. These artworks, now sold or removed from our website, have been in our stock in the past.

These pages will undoubtedly make it possible for some of you to associate an image with its title or the other way round, for others it will be a good time to discover more on such and such artist. For the sake of confidentiality – the pieces being no longer available – we won't display neither their numbering or their price. For whatever reason, make sure to visit this amazing art database with to date 6441 online works just for your pleasure! Michelle Champetier

See & discover