Karel Appel was born in Amsterdam on April 25, 1921 and is now regarded as one of the most important artists of the Netherlands after 1945. Particular attention attracted Appel with his childlike naive picture worlds, during his co-operation with the artist group CoBrA. With his expressive spontaneous artworks, Appel overcomes the separation between figuration and abstraction in his paintings.
Karel Appel grew up in the Amsterdamer working-class district. At an early age he painted landscapes, following the works of Claude Monet. Between 1940 and 1944 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam. Together with Asger Jorn and other artists, e.g. from Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands, he founded the artist group CoBrA, which was to exist between 1948 and 1951. Within CoBrA, Appel and Jorn are among the chief representatives of eruptive expressive painting. After the group dissolves, Appel goes to Paris to join Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Burri and Jean Fautier, and their avantgarde Art Informel. From now on Appel lives in Paris and commutes regularly between Europe and America. The often large-format works of this period are characterized by bright, powerful coloring, which dominates the picture space and seems to turn against rationalism and geometry. His international breakthrough came in 1953 with an exhibition at the Biennale in São Paulo, where several of his works are shown and for which he is awarded the Grand Prize of Painting. In the following years, he participated at other national and international exhibitions, e.g. the documenta II in 1959 and the documenta III in Kassel in 1964, and also solo exhibitions in New York, London and Tokyo. In his endeavor to combine painting with other arts, Appel contributes, in his later creative phase, theater productions and stage decorations. For example, he designed the equipment for Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, on the occasion of the Salzburger Festspiele in 2006. Karel Appel became particularly well-known with his powerful, often intuitive paintings. His Œuvre, however, also includes an extensive work of sculptures and drawings, which is fully appreciated after the death of the artist in Zurich in 2006.