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Guillaume Corneille

 (1922 - 2010)
Guillaume Corneille was active/lived in Netherlands, Sweden, France, Belgium.  Guillaume Corneille is known for mixed-media abstraction, sculpture.

Guillaume Corneille

Biography from the Archives of askART

The following obituary is from The New York Times, September 7, 2010.

"Corneille, 88, Dutch Artist With a Lyrical Modernism"
by Liz Robbins

The Dutch artist Corneille, who created lyrical, expressionist paintings bursting with color and who was one of the founders of the postwar European art movement known as Cobra, died on Sunday in Paris.  He was 88 and lived in Paris.

His death was announced by the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands.

Corneille was best known for radicalizing the conservative Dutch art world in the early 1950s, making modern art not only acceptable, but embraceable as well. He placed familiar subjects — birds, cats, women and landscapes — in mythological and often childlike contexts, imbuing them with spontaneity and bright, sensual reds.

"I am a painter of joy," Corneille remarked at a 2007 exhibition of his work at the Cobra Museum, said Katja Weitering, the artistic director of the museum, in Amstelveen, near Amsterdam.

"He was really an artist for all people," she said. "He was open to the audience; he appeared in documentaries, on television, and frequently visited exhibitions. It's safe to say we consider him one of the most important modern artists of the postwar."  In the Netherlands, she added, his fame and influence derived from the appeal of Cobra.

Born Guillaume Cornelis van Beverloo to Dutch parents on July 3, 1922, in Liège, Belgium, Corneille was influenced by Miró, Picasso and Paul Klee but claimed the most profound connection to van Gogh because of their shared passion for color, form and nature.  He is to be buried in a plot near the grave of van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, Ms. Weitering said.

Corneille founded Cobra in 1948 with five other artists, including his close friends Karel Appel and Constant Nieuwenhuys.  The name was an acronym made up of the artists' home cities — Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. The artists drew inspiration from surrealism, but believed that style promoted too much discussion and not enough action, Ms. Weitering said.

Instead, Corneille and his friends formed a united front in postwar Europe, urging a break from tradition and toward freedom and vitality. In an intense three years, Cobra produced two major international exhibitions and published 10 issues of a magazine for which Corneille wrote poetry. Cobra disbanded in 1951, saying it had achieved its goals, and the artists returned to their individual careers.

Corneille began his artistic life in 1940, studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam. Though he made his home base in Paris in the early 1950s, he traveled extensively in Africa, Cuba, Brazil, and Mexico. In Africa he became fascinated by the colors, smells and cultures, Ms. Weitering said, collecting brightly painted objects like the masks he later used as themes. He also spent time in Italy, Israel and San Francisco, expanding his repertory to include etching, ceramics and printmaking.

Beyond the Netherlands, Corneille's work is in the collections of several American museums, including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

He is survived by his wife, Natacha, and their son, Dimitri.

Ms. Weitering said she recalled a television interview Corneille did several years ago in the Netherlands, in which he talked about his natural optimism.

She said: "I remember Corneille saying, 'There are people who believe in heaven after they die. I believe in heaven on earth.' "

Biography from the Archives of askART

Corneille (Cornelis Guillaume van Beverloo) was born in Liege in Belgium in 1922, but of Dutch ancestry.

Corneille studied art at the Academy of Art in Amsterdam, Holland.  He was one of the founders of the REFLEX movement in 1948, and in 1949 he was also one of the founders of the COBRA* group (1) in Denmark, which has had great influence on Scandinavian art.

His work is exhibited in all major museums of modern art in the world.

* For references for these terms and others, see AskART Glossary

Biography from
Guillaume Corneille was a Belgian-born Dutch master painter, printmaker, ceramicist and writer.

The Artist initially trained in drawing at the Amsterdam Rijksakademie (1940 to 1943 ), but is considered a self-trained painter.

While at the academy he became a close friend of Karel Appel and co-founded the COBRA GROUP of artists, with Appel, Alechinksy, Jorn y Dubuffet, in 1948.

His early work was naturalistic, but after being inspired by the joie de vivre of French painters, and in particular by the work of younger artists such as Edouard Pignon, he slowly moved into the Cubist style. The poetic Corneille was strongly influenced by Miro and Klee. After the group dissolved in 1951 he moved to Paris and began collecting African art. These primitive artifacts became evident in his works, which began to take on a more imaginative style, like landscapes seen from a bird's eye view, exotic birds and stylised forms. Today Corneille lives and works in Paris, he makes visits to Israel where he works with the Jaffa Atalier. On 24 in September 2003 there was an opening of his exhibition of prints, in the Ramat-Gan Museum of Art, Israel.


- Accrochage
Galerie Boisserée, J. & W. Boisserée GmbH

- (Beverloo, C. Guillaume) Corneille in CHINA
Har-El Printers & Publishers

- 'Corneille,' Cornelis van Beverloo
Har-El Printers & Publishers


- Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
- Chazen Museum of Art
- Dordrechts Museum, Netherlands

1940 - 1943
Studied drawing at the Amsterdam Rijksakademie, but taught himself how to paint. While at the academy he became a close friend of Karel Appel

Dutch painter, printmaker, ceramicist and writer, born in Liège, Belgium

After the liberation he was inspired by the joie de vivre of French painters, and in particular by the work of younger artists such as Edouard Pignon, which led him to adopt a lyrically Cubist style. His earlier work had been naturalistic

One of the founders of the REFLEX movement

One of the founders of the COBRA group

Lives and works in Paris, France

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  Guillaume Corneille

Born:  1922 - Liege, Belgium
Died:   2010 - Paris, France
Known for:  mixed-media abstraction, sculpture