Amsterdam, 1921 – Zurich, 2006
Karel Appel was born in Amsterdam on April 25th, 1921. In 1946 his first solo exhibition was held at Het Beerenhuis, Groningen, the Netherlands, and he participated in Jonge Schilders (young painters) at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. In this period, Appel was influenced at first by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, and later by Jean Dubuffet. He was a member of the Nederlandse Experimentele Groep (Dutch experimental group, 1948) and established the CoBra group (1948-1951) together with Costant (Constant Nieuwenhuys), Corneille (Guillaume Cornelis Beverloo), and other painters from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
Their style has distinguished itself through bold expressive compositions inspired by the art of children, as well as by the work of Paul Klee and Joan Mirò. In 1950 the artist moved to Paris; there the writer Hugo Claus introduces him to the art critic Michel Tapié, who has organized several exhibitions on his work. He was invited to hold a solo exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, in 1953 and received the UNESCO Prize at the Venice Biennale the following year.
Main solo exhibitions include the National Center of Contemporary Art in Paris, the Stedelijk Museum (1968), the Kunsthalle in Basel and the Palais des Beaux-Arts (1969). Later, his work was the subject of numerous solo exhibitions organized by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (1982); Castello di Rivoli-Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy (1987); National Museum of Art, Osaka (1989); Stedelijk Museum (1998, 2000, and 2001); and Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Amstelveen, Holland (2001). Appel died on May 3rd, 2006 in Zurich.