Details & Cataloguing

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi


Karel Appel
1921 - 2006
signed and dated K. Appel '52
oil on canvas
115 x 146,5 cm; 45 1/4 x 57 11/16 in.
Executed in 1952. 
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This work is registered in the archives of the Karel Appel Foundation.


Martha Jackson Gallery, New York
Private Collection
Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière, Paris
Private collection, Netherlands
Sale: Van Ham, Köln, Modern Kunst und Zeitgenössische Kunst, 30 November 2016, lot 103 
Private Collection
Natalie Seroussi, Paris


New York, Martha Jackson Gallery, First American Exhibition, 6 - 31 December 1954; catalogue, no. 3 
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, School of Paris 1959: The Internationals, 5 April -17 May 1959; catalogue, p.19 & 48, no. 3 
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam,  Appel, 25 June - 30 August, 1965; catalogue, no. 29
Bruxelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Appel, 16 September – 6 October 1965; catalogue, no. 14
Bochum, Städtische Kunstgalerie Bochum, Karel Appel. Gemälde, 31 October - 5 December 1965; catalogue, no. 18
Copenhagen, Charlottenborg-Udstillingen, Karel Appel, 11 - 26 December 1965; catalogue, no. 22
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Karel Appel. Paintings 1947-65, 26 February - 27 March 1966; catalogue, no. 17


Ragon, Michel, Karel Appel Peinture 1937-57., 1988, Paris, p. 400, no. 706 (illustrated)

Catalogue Note

I have always dreamed of revolutionary forms of expression, that would reflect the very game of life and society, nature and city. I have always dreamed of catching the secret movement of existence with the most spontaneity, flexibility and transparence.
Karel Appel

Member of the Experimentele Groep, the CoBrA movement founded in 1948 by a group of young enlightened painters: Asger Jorn (Copenhagen), Pierre Alechinsky, Constant (both from Brussels) and Karel Appel (Amsterdam). Fueled by humanist philosophy and praising the renaissance of human thinking in the post-war context, CobrA dreamed itself international, libertarian and experimental. In 1948, Constant wrote: "A painting is no longer a structure of colors and lines, but rather a beast, a night, a scream, a person, or all of it at once" (Manifesto in Reflex, October 8, 1948). It was in this context that Appel started a revolution, painting his most essential works inspired by artistic forms not yet influenced by Western conventions and abolishing the frontier between abstract and figurative art.

In 1952, with the painting Tigerbird, Appel followed in the footsteps of Picasso and Paul Klee, borrowing to primitive, popular and raw art as well as naive art. Combining naturalist and expressionist influences, Tigerbird celebrates life, childhood, newfound freedom and light with an exceptional creative energy. In this vibrant and dynamic composition, the treatment of material is shaper than ever. Self-sufficient, the paintbrush is fast and bold. The vivid palette of colors is gaudy, and associated with impasto, gives the work a radiating picturesque power evoking softness, innocence, childhood brutality.

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi