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Karel Appel (1921-2006)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Karel Appel (1921-2006)

Totem

Details
Karel Appel (1921-2006)
Totem
signed and dated 'CK. Appel '48' (upper left)
oil on canvas in the artist's frame
185.5 x 45.5 cm. (including the frame)
Painted in 1948
Provenance
Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Schiedam.
Acquired at the above exhibition by Piet and Ida Sanders in 1956.
Literature
P. Sanders, Herinneringen, Amsterdam 2009, p. 112 (illustrated).
Piet Sanders: een honderdjarige vernieuwer, The Hague 2012, p. 192 (illustrated), as: Totem figure.
Exhibited
Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Karel Appel, 28 January-27 February 1956.
Haarlem, Vishal, Facetten der hedendaagse kunst uit drie Nederlandse verzamelingen, 8 September-1 October 1956, no. 2.
Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum, Schiedammers tonen hun kunstbezit, 18 December 1959-16 February 1960, no. 31, as: Totempaal.
Zeist, Slot Zeist, Karel Appel, 3 August-11 September 1977.
Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, CoBrA: the colour of freedom: the Schiedam collection, 29 March-28 September 2003.
Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Collectie Piet en Ida Sanders. Leven met kunst, 30 June-21 October 2012.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Alexandra Bots
Alexandra Bots

Lot Essay

This work is registered in the Archive of the Karel Appel Foundation.

11 January 2013

Piet Sanders and I met in Paris, shortly after I got to know Karel. Karel felt very much indebted to Piet, who frequently helped him with legal issues. Some people abused Karel in their business dealings with him and Piet would often help him resolve these matters.

Already in a very early stage Piet Sanders acquired works by Appel, he would virtually always buy a work that was freshly finished. His choice was made on impulse and intuition.

I'm not sure how their friendship started, but they knew each other since 1937, when Piet Sanders started in Amsterdam as a lawyer. At that time Karel was still unknown, but when he lacked the funds to buy paint, Piet gave him 500 guilders without any reserve. When they met again in Paris, Piet could bring home the cast sculpture "Figure" from 1951, that currently is on view in the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam.

The friendship between Karel and Piet and Ida Sanders has endured all those decades, until Karel's demise.


11 Januari 2013

Ik leerde Piet Sanders kennen in Parijs, kort nadat ik Karel leerde kennen. Karel had veel appreciatie voor Piet. Daarbij komt dat Piet veel voor Karel deed op juridisch terrein. Er waren wel mensen, die zakelijk misbruik maakten van KA, en Piet heeft toen vaak geholpen om zulk soort problemen op te lossen.

Piet Sanders heeft al heel vroeg werk van Appel aangekocht, en hij kocht vrijwel altijd een werk dat net gemaakt was. Zijn keuze is heel impulsief en intutief tot stand gekomen.

Ik weet niet hoe hun vriendschap tot stand is gekomen, maar ze kenden elkaar al sinds 1937 toen Piet Sanders als advocaat in Amsterdam begon. Karel was toen nog volslagen onbekend, maar toen Karel geen geld had om verf te kopen, gaf Piet hem zonder voorbehoud 500 gulden. Toen ze elkaar weer ontmoetten in Parijs, heeft Piet het gipssculptuur "Figure" uit 1951 mee mogen nemen, dat nu in het Schiedams Museum hangt.

De vriendschap tussen Karel en Piet en Ida Sanders heeft al die tijd stand gehouden, tot aan Karels overlijden.


'In 1948 we said we should do something, we ought to organize a group, exhibit together, introduce our new ideas. Corneille met Constant Nieuwenhuys; I met him, too, and we formed a group, Reflex, and our own journal. Things went a little better, not much, but we had something to eat. And then that group became international, the CoBrA group. Alechinsky joined, Dotremont, and we met Jorn through Dotremont. He already had a group in Denmark, and we put everything together. Dotremont, who was then a Surrealist painter, invented the name CoBrA: Copenhagen, Brusssels, Amsterdam. Brands, Rooskens, and Wolvecamp also joined.' ('Karel Appel on Karel Appel: Jottings, Musings, Poems' in Karel Appel, New York 1969, p. 47.)

Appel's work during the CoBrA period (1948-1951) conjured strong expressionistic and colourful visions of the inherent vitality and truth of such elementary subjects as animals and children by using raw and powerfully constructed images of them as a kind of iconography of protest.

Totem is an iconic work by Karel Appel from 1948. In this period he made several comparable works, some with the same title.
At this time, Appel also created his objets poubelles (rubbish objects). He often piled up one object on another. These junk and found objects usually center on a theme, which is openly poignant and characteristically expressionistic. Their compositions resemble the composition of Totem. A totem as an object can be the symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual. Native American tradition provides that each individual is connected with nine different animals that will accompany each person through life, acting as guides. During his later life Appel became a fervent collector of Native American art.
'Pre-Columbian art, Inca and Maya, fascinated me. What sheer evidence in the forms and the colors! And what a sense of life! But above all I love the Indian art of North America and Canada, the painted totems and masks.' ('Conversation: Karel Appel - Frédéric de Towarnicki' in Karel Appel, New York 1969, p. 170.)

Like many of his generation, Appel's art had grown out of a direct response to the existential horror of the Second World War. Embracing a new kind of Primitive Expressionism, and consciously avoiding all trappings of Western thought or ideology Appel and the other artists of the CoBrA group sought out the primal expressions of primitive cultures, the visions of animals or children, the Outsider art of so-called modern primitives and the artistic expressions of the mentally insane. Using the material and imagery of the run-down broken streets of Post-War Amsterdam and the simple iconography and vision of graffiti and children's art as his source material, Appel sought to give voice in his painting to the primal essence of life. In this Post-War world of existential and material desolation the uncorrupted and innocent viewpoint of the child, the primitive and the animal was considered the only worthy vision of life, the only hope for art.

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