- Kat -Cat
- signed and dated '53
- oil on canvas
- 53,5 by 80,5 cm.
Avanti Galleries, New York
Galerie W. Schoots, Eindhoven
Acquired from the above by the present owner
CoBrA, originating from the "Experimentele Groep" was established in 1948 by a group of enthusiastic young artists. The initiators included Asger Jorn from Denmark, Pierre Alechinsky from Belgium and Karel Appel and Constant from The Netherlands. Having suffered from the terrors of the Second World War there was an outcry for artistic freedom. In 1948 Constant wrote: "a painting no longer is a structure of colours and lines, but a beast, a night, a cry, a person, or all of that together" (Manifesto in Reflex, 8 October).
In the same year Karel Appel painted Cry for Freedom (Vrijheidsschreeuw) which was considered to be symbolic for the entire movement (Sale: Sotheby's Amsterdam 30th May 1995, lot 65, sold for Dfl. 425.000 hammer). With its pure red, green blue and yellow colours it was strongly reminiscent of Asger Jorn's works during the final years of the war.
Karel Appel's work at that time was strongly influenced by Picasso and Miro. CoBra became synonymous with a powerful expressionist artistic trend combining figurative and abstract tendencies.
Karel Appel and his contemporaries found their inspiration in the drawings of children, the mentally ill and in primitive, unspoiled cultures. Appel and other CoBrA artists sought the images of our fantasy, hidden in the subconscious. They created their images influenced by the theories of Carl Jung.
In 1950, Karel Appel visited the exhibition following the "Congres International de Psychiatrie" in Paris. He bought the catalogue and illustrated it spontaneously.
Animals were very important elements in Karel Appel's work of the early fifties. Their seeming simplicity makes us regard them as clichés, representing the emptiness of the violence in which the stereotype of primitivity becomes clear.
In Cat, 1953, the treatment of the material has become rougher than in the works of the preceding years, the touch is self-reliant, and one can observe how soon the touches change into a clear pattern before our eyes. The work has been set up in fast and sure strokes, in primary colours. The thick application of paint, bold colours and expressive brushstrokes, illustrates the sense of childlike naivity that developed from Appel's Paris years, a style that would come to dominate his work for the remainder of his career.
"Appel presents a form of painting full of emotion, immediacy and strength, which is tied to the archetypical, the original and the human image. The rough, simplified figuration fully reflects primitive art and children's drawings. Whenever in the future more dissolved, thus more abstract images, develop, the still figuration forms a central issue in Appel's world of images" (F. Steininger, Karel Appel, Bratislava 2005, p. 39).