Karel Appel 1957-1996

Available works


Karel Appel, Figure, 1991, 81 x 65 cm., oil on canvas.

Gallery Delaive is pleased to announce Karel Appel. 1957-1996, an exhibition of the work of the renowned Dutch artist from after the CoBrA period until his time in Tuscany, Monaco, and Connecticut in the 1990s.

Today Karel Appel is still most known for his role in the CoBrA group and his infamous statement: “I just mess around a bit”. This is an unmerited mischaracterization, because CoBrA already disintegrated in 1951 after which Appel worked independently for the rest of his life. In that subsequent period Appel has done the exact opposite of just “messing around” and went through countless different artistic phases which continuously resulted in innovative and compelling work.

During his career, spanning close to six decades, Appel always pushed his studio practice to its limits by constantly experimenting with new subjects, compositions, materials, and mediums. As a painter he was persistently committed to renewal and often shed his old skin while simultaneously producing work in other mediums such as drawings, sculptures, collage and assemblage work, and even readymade and photography pieces.

Nico Delaive and Karel Appel with the work Bird (1957 , 116 x 89 cm, oil on canvas)

Nico Delaive first met Karel Appel in the early 1980s and through the years build up extensive knowledge of his work and practice. With this exhibition Gallery Delaive will show a carefully curated selection of works that offer a contesting perspective to the often misrepresentational and reductive characterizations of Appel’s artistic legacy.

The selection consists of almost 20 works in a variety of different sizes, including early drawings, a ceramic sculpture and several of the recognizable, expressive impasto paintings from the 60s and 70s and decorated catalogs and atypical compositions from the 80s. Additionally, multiple spectacular pieces from the 90s will be displayed, including a large landscape painting created by Appel in his Tuscan palazzo.

Karel Appel, Birth of a Landscape, 1996, 140 x 200 cm., oil on canvas.

Karel Appel was a dedicated, rigorous, and versatile artist who ceaselessly implemented his world-renowned style of raw, intuitive emotion, of child-like primitivism and of anti-bourgeois crudeness into both his painting practice and his experiments outside of it. Karel Appel. 1957-1996 elucidates how Appel’s work did not turn stale nor resort to repetition after the CoBrA period or the 1950s but was profoundly engaged and continued being ingenious and original.

                        Karel Appel in his studio in Darien, Connecticut, U.S.A., 1992