Across a nearly six-decade career, Karel
Appel established a distinct aesthetic that
made him one of the most influential Dutch artists of the latter half of the twentieth
century. Born in 1921 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, he studied at the Rijksakademie van
Beeldende Kunsten. Appel left the Netherlands in the 1950’s, travelled extensively and lived
and worked in New York and Europe. He passed away in 2006 in Zürich, Switzerland.
A founding figure of CoBrA in 1948, a movement that rejected rationalism and geometric
abstraction, Appel experimented widely, across painting, sculpture, drawing, and stage
design, distinguishing himself for his astonishing capacity to innovate. He never settled in
a signature style, media or subject. Going beyond his classical, academic training, Appel
looked at folk art, as well as the uninhibited work of children and the mentally ill, whilst
also drawing from jazz’s spirit of improvisation. Oscillating between realism and an
emotionally charged, robustly active, and spontaneous abstraction, Appel adopted a
material-oriented approach in his practice and promoted a genuine form of expression.