Retrospective of Dutch artist Karel Appel's works on paper opens at Centre Pompidou

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Retrospective of Dutch artist Karel Appel's works on paper opens at Centre Pompidou
Karel Appel, Animal n 14, 1951 © Karel Appel Foundation Adagp Paris 2015. Photo: Tom Haartsen Ouderkerk a d Amstel Pays Bas.

PARIS.- The Centre Pompidou is presenting a retrospective of Dutch artist Karel Appel’s works on paper for the first time, with a selection of some eighty-five drawings from between 1947 and 2006, some of which have never been exhibited before. The artist was closely linked with the activities of the Cobra group, and made a profound impression on European art in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Karel Appel settled in Paris in 1950, and then divided his time between Europe and America. The first Cobra group artist to establish an international career, his pictorial language remained profoundly European, even though an American influence is evident in his work. The Cobra group was an international community movement of Dutch, Belgian and Danish artists founded in Paris in November 1948, whose collective activities ceased after the international experimental art exhibition staged in Liège in 1951. Its members were among the most important artists of their time. But Appel rapidly moved away from the Cobra vocabulary and developed his own style (or styles, rather), experimenting with forms and materials throughout a long career spanning sixty years.

After occupying centre stage in the art world for several decades, Appel is now little known and somewhat forgotten outside the Netherlands. However, his deeply humanistic art, rooted in an Expressionistic tradition, underwent a revival during the Eighties, when the painting of the «Jungen Wilden» and Neo-Fauves was much in favour. The last major exhibition of his work in France goes back to 1987, in Toulouse and Nice.

While a new generation of collectors, gallery owners and art historians are now reassessing post-Second World War art, it seems the right moment to take a fresh look at the work of one of the greatest artists in the second half of the 20th century.

A catalogue Karel Appel. Works on paper, published by Sieveking Verlag, Munich/Berlin, edited by the curator, Jonas Storsve, accompanies the exhibition.

Containing some 200 pages, this book in three languages (French, English and German), includes an introduction by Jonas Storsve and articles by Anne Lemonnier, conservation manager in the Cabinet d’Art Graphique of the MNAM/CCI, and Andreas Strobl, curator at the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, together with a chronology by Franz W. Kaiser, head curator in charge of exhibitions at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague.

From 4 February to 17 April 2016, the exhibition will move to the Pinakothek der Moderne/Staatliche graphische Sammlung in Munich.

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