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 Karel (Christiaan) Appel  (1921 - 2006)

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About: Karel (Christiaan) Appel
 

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Lived/Active: New York / France/Italy/Switzerland      Known for: fantasy animal painting, abstraction

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BIOGRAPHY for Karel Appel
Facts/Data
Birth
1921 (Amsterdam, Holland)
 
Death
2006 (Zurich, Switzerland)

Lived/Active
New York / France/Italy/Switzerland




Often Known For
fantasy animal painting, abstraction

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Karel Appel was a painter born on April 25, 1921 in Amsterdam, Holland; his father was a barber.  He studied at the Royal Academy in Amsterdam in 1940-43.  Appel sought to develop an impulsive formal language based on life, in reaction to geometric academicism.  He even founded with others an experimental group.  In Paris in 1949, he focused on mastering creative power and did canvases that "look like they were done in a rage". (Schatz)  An action painter, Appel gives full rein to his violent expressionism in numerous mural compositions and in stained glass windows.

In 1958, Appel established residence in Paris, and in 1959 he came to New York, where he now spends half the year.  He won the UNESCO prize at the Venice Biennale in 1952, in 1956 the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam commissioned a large public mural from him which was accepted after considerable public controversy.  He was the youngest artist awarded first prize at the Guggenheim international exhibition in 1960.

Appel's career was as turbulent as his paintings.  When he did a mural for the canteen in Amsterdam's city hall, some diners threw their lunches at it.  Some years later when he designed six stained glass windows for a new church in the town of Zaandam, 300 parishioners refused to contribute to the building fund.  To Appel, painting is 'a battle.'  He pops his colors directly out of the tube, smears them around with fingers, palette knife and occasionally a brush.  When the heavy, screaming colors look curdled enough, Appel appends a title, usually one that has no relation to the painting, since one cannot determine any subject matter to the canvas.

Appel is an impetuous and indefatigable worker, whose creative energy seems inexhaustible.  The world which he creates does not originate from a circumspect handling of ideas, but from an incessant exploration of form and color, of material, and especially of the personal gesture.  The images which he evokes in this way are highly concrete and tangible; "they have the same truth as things that have grown and developed, that have not merely been invented.  Only after their emergence do Appel's images start to lead their own private lives, sometimes softly poetical, sometimes grim and aggressive". (Schatz)

Compiled and submitted August 2004 by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Time Magazine, November 14, 1960
Karel Appel, Work on Paper from Yahoo on the Internet.

Biography from RoGallery.com:
Karel Appel was born with the full name of Christiaan Karel Appel, in his parents' house at 7 Dapperstraat, Amsterdam.  On the ground floor, his father, Jan Appel, had a barber shop.  His mother, born Johanna Chevalier, was a descendant of French Huguenots. Karel Appel had three brothers.

At fourteen, Appel produced his first real painting, on canvas, a still life of a fruit basket. For his fifteenth birthday, his wealthy uncle Karel Chevalier gave him a paint set and an easel.  An avid amateur painter himself, Chevalier gave his namesake some lessons in painting.  At nineteen years old, he was admitted to the Rijks-Academie in Amsterdam, where he studied from 1940 to 1943.

In 1946 his first solo show was held in Groningen, the Netherlands, and he participated in the Jonge Schilders exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam. About this time Appel was influenced first by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, then by Jean Dubuffet.  In 1948 Karel Appel founded Nederlandse Experimentele Group together with among others Constant, Corneille and Eugene Brands, and later that year he was one of six who signed the manifest of the COBRA movement in Paris.

Beside his large production of paintings Karel Appel can add graphic works and illustrations, sculptures, ceramic works and large decorations of buildings and rooms. With his colors and childish lines Karel Appel seduces most of us, because we recognize the childhood and the fantasy in his pictures.  His unspoiled motifs of children and animals in this period are depicted with strong and bright colors surrounded by sharp black outlines. While the motifs stands the way of expression are replaced in the beginning of the fifthties by a more freely and more emotional way.  The quantities of paint too are used more unrestrained, and for a period he paints almost three-dimensional paintings.

Børge Birch, who was friend with Asger Jorn before COBRA, is introduced to Appel and they form a partnership which leads to several exhibitions - solo in 1949-71-83 and many mixed exhibitions alongside many of his COBRA- friends. Karel Appels work is exhibited in many gallerys in USA and all over Europe as well his work is represented in the finest museums in the world.

Dutch-born Karel Appel was part of the original CoBrA group (Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam) whose works were characterized by bold expressionist forms and raw, intense colors.  From 1940 to 1943 Appel studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam.  By 1951, when he painted a mural for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, he had earned an important place in the art world.  His sculpture, paintings, and prints, thickly layered with color, have a childlike quality about them, but new possibilities present themselves at each viewing.

He 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 is represented in the collections of major museums in the United States, Canada, England, France, and Holland.

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Guggenheim Museum New York

SELECTED AWARDS

He received the UNESCO Prize at the Venice Biennale of 1954

Graphics prize at the Ljubljana Biennial in Yugoslavia

International Prize for Painting at the São Paulo Bienal

John Solomon Guggenheim Fellowship Award - New York, USA

Biography from Acquisitions Of Fine Art:
Karel Appel was a painter born on April 25, 1921 in Amsterdam, Holland; his father was a barber.  He studied at the Royal Academy in Amsterdam in 1940-43. Appel sought to develop an impulsive formal language based on life, in reaction to geometric academics.  He even founded with others an experimental group. In Paris in 1949, he focused on mastering creative power and did canvases that "look like they were done in a rage". (Schatz)  An action painter, Appel gives full rein to his violent expressionism in numerous mural compositions and in stained glass windows.

In 1958, Appel established residence in Paris, and in 1959 he came to New York, where he now spends half the year.  He won the UNESCO prize at the Venice Biennale in 1952, in 1956 the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam commissioned a large public mural from him which was accepted after considerable public controversy.  He was the youngest artist awarded first prize at the Guggenheim international exhibition in 1960.

Appel's career was as turbulent as his paintings. When he did a mural for the canteen in Amsterdam's city hall, some diners threw their lunches at it.  Some years later when he designed six stained glass windows for a new church in the town of Zaandam, 300 parishioners refused to contribute to the building fund.  To Appel, painting is 'a battle.'  He pops his colors directly out of the tube, smears them around with fingers, palette knife and occasionally a brush.  When the heavy, screaming colors look curdled enough, Appel appends a title, usually one that has no relation to the painting, since one cannot determine any subject matter to the canvas.

Appel is an impetuous and indefatigable worker, whose creative energy seems inexhaustible.  The world which he creates does not originate from a circumspect handling of ideas, but from an incessant exploration of form and color, of material, and especially of the personal gesture.  The images which he evokes in this way are highly concrete and tangible; "they have the same truth as things that have grown and developed, that have not merely been invented.  Only after their emergence do Appel's images start to lead their own private lives, sometimes softly poetical, sometimes grim and aggressive". (Schatz)

Biography from GallArt.com:
Karel Appel (American, 1940 - ) helped to pioneer an unrestrained physical style of painting in Europe in the period following World War II. TheCoBrA group of which Appel was a member, rejected the academic tenets of art, preferring to express a more primal aesthetic that is today associated with Abstract Expressionism. In particular, Appel's works are characterized by a restless vitality and what he called "kinetic thought’ – the spontaneity of movement and creativity.

Appel puts on a series of fantastic masks, reminding us of the constantly shifting borderline between the hilarious and serious. The world of play is inseparable from the world of affairs, and Appel's world of play erases the border between child and adult.

His work is distinguished by thick application of paint, violent colors, and vehement brush stroke combined with a sense of childlike naiveté. Appel was awarded the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) prize at the Venice Biennale exhibition in 1954 and in 1960 was given first prize at the Guggenheim International exhibition.

In the late 1960s, he began working with three-dimensional forms, producing, first, a series of large relief sculptures in painted wood and, later, brightly colored plastic reliefs and large-scal ealuminum sculptures.

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