Cobra was a Dutch experimental art group that attracted avant-garde creatives who wanted to get in touch with the artistic potential that exists in the freedom of expression. Karel Appel was one of Cobra’s founding members and much of his work is considered iconic of that movement. The group’s work was not popular in the Netherlands and it is partly because of this that Appel moved to Paris with his colleagues. He would later travel extensively and gain international recognition in Brazil, Mexico, Italy and the USA.
Karel was named after his uncle. This proved prophetic as his father’s brother played an important role in his life. He encouraged the natural aptitude that the young artist showed for painting at the early age of 14. Just 11 years later, Karel had his first controversial solo exhibition at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
While Appel was widely known for his painting, he was also a prolific sculptor. He created public pieces in a variety of media including ceramic, glass, marble and concrete.
Appel died in May 2006. His work continues to hold prominent positions in galleries around the world such as Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, The Netherlands; Art Gallery of Hamilton, Canada and Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands.