Karel Appel- Cats portfolio- Sale 259 by Rachel Davis Fine Arts

Event Description

Karel Appel (Dutch 1921-2006) lithographs- Cats- 17 lithographs from the portfolio


Karel Christiaan Appel (Dutch 1921-2006)

One of the Netherlands' most celebrated 20th century artists, Karel Appel, was born in Amsterdam in 1921 as a son of Jan Appel, a barber, and Johanna Chevalier, a descendant of French Huguenots. While he apprenticed at his father's barber shop, his uncle, Karel Chevalier, gave him a box of paints for his 15th birthday and encouraged the young artist's potential, and so it began.  Appel then went on to studying at the Rijks-Academie in Amsterdam from 1940 to 1943, and to having his first solo show in 1946 in Groningen, the Netherlands, and he participated in the Jonge Schilders exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam.

Perhaps Appel is best known to be one of the six founding members of CoBrA (incorporation of the first letters of the members' cities of residence - Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam), founded in 1948 and active through 1951, whose works were characterized by bold expressionist forms and raw, intense colors.  In the wake of World War II, CoBrA rejected the formal and rationalist conventions of art establishment and embraced the raw energy of primitive art, the imagination of children's drawings, expressive brushstrokes and a bright bold palette.  Much of Appel's work is considered iconic of the movement.  CoBrA attracted avant-garde creatives who are interested in the artistic potential of the freedom of expression. 

Known not only as a painter, Appel excelled working in sculpture, design, mural and printmaking.  In the 1960s, as painting was increasingly considered as outdated, Appel discovered usable aspects in the poster-like flat aesthetics of Pop Art, derived from advertising, to which he applied Cobra themes.  He implemented this in monumental reliefs, sculptures, and lithographs.  He also admired the domestic house cat for its aloof, yet instinctive, demeanor, and it became one of his favorite subjects.  This portfolio of 17 lithographs in color, Cats, is a visual meditation on the animals’ behavior in which the artist depicts them resting, walking, stalking, frightened, and poised to attack, and is an exquisite example of Appel's career-long interest in animals as a subject and his masterful use of flat brushstrokes to yield a patterning of rectangular strokes of ink reminiscent of the aggressive layers of paint that distinguishes his paintings.

Appel was awarded the UNESCO Prize at the 27th International Biennale in Venice, and the first prize at the Guggenheim International Exhibition in New York in 1960.  He has exhibited in galleries worldwide, and even after his death in 2006, his work continues to hold prominent position and is represented in the collections of major museums such as Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, The Netherlands; Art Gallery of Hamilton, Canada and Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands to name a few, and many others in the US, Canada, England, France and the Netherlands.

"To paint is to destroy what preceded. I never try to make a painting, but a chunk of life. It is a scream; it is a night; it is like a child; it is a tiger behind bars." 

"You have to learn it all, then forget it, and start again like a child."

Karel Appel



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Auctioneer: Rachel Davis

(RDFA 2024V1)