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Karel Appel (b. 1921)
Karel Appel (b. 1921)

Kind - Child

Karel Appel (b. 1921)
Kind - Child
signed and dated lower right Ck. Appel '51
oil on hessian
41 x 33 cm
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owners.
CHECK, volgens eigenaar nooit tent gesteld, maar misschien daarvoor?

Lot Essay

Dated 1950 and 1951, the following two lots from a private Dutch collection were painted during the few years that marked the climax of CoBra's 'militant' action as a group. Karel Appel and his fellow CoBra artists wanted to start anew. They rejected rational Western culture, which, as could be seen from World War II, had shown itself to be rotten to the core. With the emphasis on the instinctive, the spontaneous, the unplanned and the uninhibited, they wanted their art to reflect the new times. To this end, Existentialism, a widespread doctrine of thinking in Europe at the time, also played part in their philosophy. In a climate in which the torn 'body' of Europe was undergoing a reconstruction after the horrors and the damages of the war, Existentialism promoted the understanding that man was alone in this alien world and that responsibility ultimately resided within the individual.

Looking back Appel recalls: "Our dream was to throw academic culture out of the window, to demolish everything and open up new roads; it was like childhood rediscovered, with all its freshness and dreams."
He goes on: "I've always dreamed of revolutionary forms of expression able to reflect the very play of life and society, of nature and city. I've always tried to catch the secret movement of existence with the maximum of spontaneity, flexibility and transparency." (In an interview with Frdric de Towarnicki, cited in K.A.Becht, Karel Appel, New York 1985, p.165)

In their wish to reach this very source of human creativity, Appel and the other CoBra members took their examples from those forms of art which appared not to have been touched or tainted with the rules and conventions of the Western world. Hence, seeking inspiration from the primitive peoples with their totems and magic signs and from unspoilt aspects of Western culture such as folk art, naive art and above all the art of children, they wanted their art to express the same rawness and freshness. As opposed to art stemming from reason and rationality, their art was an art as a kind of game, a play activity aiming at more and more liberty.

"Sometimes my work looks very childish, or child-like, schizophrenic or stupid, you know. But that was a good thing for me. Because for me, the material is the paint itself. In the mass of paint, I find my imagination and go to paint it." (In a recorded interview with Alan Hanlon, New York 1972)

Using vibrant, unmixed colours of red, yellow and blue, and broad brush strokes, Karel Appel creates his friendly, innocent child-like beings and animals. In Kind, zon en vogels (lot 253 in this sale) his imaginary creatures are literally fizzing with energy, depicting an excited child probably trying to catch two birds or perhaps rather inciting them to fly. As if seen through the eyes of a child, his paintings radiate uncomplicated happiness and joy. The following two lots Kind and Kind, zon en vogels are fine examples of how Appel in his paint sought to convey a positive message of hope and optimism.

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