Karel Appel


Karel Appel (1921-2006) was an important disruptor in the evolution of 20th century abstraction and one of the founders of the COBRA movement.

Born in Amsterdam in 1921, the artist was influenced by avant-garde masters such as Pablo Picasso and Jean Dubuffet. Their influences are visible in Appel’s creations throughout his career.

In 1948, Appel, along with fellow artists living and working in Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, founded the expressionist collective, CoBrA, based on the names of the three cities. Cobra members were inspired by folk art, children’s creativity, and primitivism. Because of their use of bright colors and expressive brushstrokes, Cobra is often noted as a precursor to the American abstract expressionist movement.

Appel's work was generally rejected in Amsterdam which lead him to relocating to Denmark where he was embraced with much enthusiasm. However he would move to Paris and befriend the leading avant-garde artists including Jean-Paul Riopelle and Sam Francis. Such relationships would inform Appel’s interest in the materiality of his medium. He applied paint directly from the tube, often thickening it with other materials, and retained the form of the brushstroke in his compositions. 

While¬†Cobra dissolved in 1951, the¬†succeeding years proved critically and financially successful for Appel. The artist was widely exhibited in Europe and beyond: he was included in the 1953 exhibit ‚ÄúYoung European Painters‚ÄĚ at the Guggenheim in New York, showed at the 1954 Venice Biennale (winning the UNESCO award), and in 1964, exhibited at Documenta III in Kassel.

‚ÄúPersonnage‚ÄĚ, is characteristic of Appel‚Äôs work¬†from this¬†highly-desirable period, and depicts two quasi-anthropomorphic forms, a subject matter Appel explored widely. Do you see human faces or exuberantly colored birds? Regardless of interpretation, the bright colors and bold lines are¬†evocative of his best works¬†with¬†their na√Įve, art-brut style and visceral energy.¬†

Works from this period are Appel's most desired and sought-after by collectors. 

Questions about this artwork? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720  

Color oil stick on paper

France, 1960

Signed and dated by the artist in pencil

Dedicated by the artist "pour Esther, Amitié, Karel".

Note: Esther Robel Gallery (1947-1979/86) was one of the first contemporary art galleries in Los Angeles and one of the pioneers of the La Cienega gallery scene. 

24‚ÄĚW 18‚ÄĚH (work)¬†

Very good condition 


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