Show Surveys Karel Appel Drawings

MUNICH.- Karel Appel (1921–2006) was one of the outstanding Dutch artists of the post-war era, and is set to have a major retrospective here.

His colorful sculptures are featured in many public squares and his often large-format paintings are represented in leading museums right across the globe.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network obtain many of his works at auction, which are still very affordable.

In Germany, Appel’s works haven’t been shown in a retrospective for some time now. The last offerings were in a major retrospective in 1990 in Cologne and an exhibition of the artist’s sculptures in 1999 in Karlsruhe and Bremen.

The new retrospective in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München, which is composed from works in the artist’s estate collection, was first exhibited in the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

On the whole, his drawings have been rarely shown separately to his paintings. This is even more remarkable since Karel Appel did not see drawing as a mere by-product of painting.

Time and again, Appel created spontaneous works on paper in creative spurts, which also lead him to hone his style and general concept of art.

Thus, his drawings shed new light on the child-like creatures of the early years, the almost abstract, expressive outbursts of the fifties and the experiments with collage.

Right now, with painting as an art form once again being passionately discussed, it is the perfect time to rediscover an artist such as Appel, who was part of the renewal of painting and drawing after 1945, and who over some 60 years was able to create an oeuvre that was as extensive as it was impressive, and whose dynamic pictures – including those on paper – will always remain a special visual experience.

As early as his time as one of the initiators of the CoBrA group (Copenhagen/Brussels/Amsterdam) between 1948 and 1951, Karel Appel was linking up an international network of avant-garde artists, and was an integral part of the expressive regenerations of post-war art.

In 1950 he moved to Paris; in 1954 he represented the Netherlands at the 27th Venice Biennale and exhibited for the first time in Martha Jackson’s gallery in New York.

Music played an important role in Appel’s art. In 1957, during his first stay in New York, he met the jazz musicians Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Count Basie and Sarah Vaughan, whose portraits he painted in Sam Francis’ studio. It was also in New York that Appel came into contact with the Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline.

A first retrospective in 1965 in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam presented a survey of Karel Appel’s entire oeuvre up to that point. The exhibition then toured Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden.

In the 1970s, the artist maintained studios in New York, Paris, the south of France and Italy, sometimes simultaneously. This decade was marked by extensive travels through Mexico, South America and Asia – Japan, Indonesia, India and Nepal.

In the 1980s, Karel Appel’s painting was rediscovered by younger artists such as Georg Baselitz, and he exhibited in galleries such as that of Annina Nosei in New York, who also represented the young graffiti artist Michel Basquiat.

In the 1990s, Appel worked in his studios in New York, in rural Connecticut and in Tuscany. During this time, he also produced set designs for operas. In 1999 he set up a foundation to manage the preservation of his artistic works, now known as the Karel Appel Foundation.

Karel Appel died on 3 May 2006 in Zurich, where, for some years, he had spent an increasing amount of time due to his deteriorating health. He was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Photo above: Karel Appel, Untitled, 1948, Gouache, tempera and pencil on paper, 33 x 47 cm. © K. Appel Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video offers a vintage clip of Karel Appel's studio.