The Dutch artist Karel Appel, died at the age of 85, famously declared that “If I paint like a barbarian, it’s because we live in a barbarous age” – the sentiment of a man who had reached adulthood at the beginning of the second world war. Yet, like other members of that shortlived but celebrated movement of radical artists and intellectuals, the Cobra group, he absorbed a variety of intellectual and artistic influences, out of which developed a frenetic style of sweeping brushstrokes and vibrant, even lurid, colours.
Cobra was an acronym of “Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam”, reflecting the origins of its members, Appel’s painting of smiling yet sinister children spoiled so many municipal appetites that his sales plummeted but in 995 a museum dedicated to Cobra was opened in the Dutch town of Amstelveen, and in 2001 Appel’s 80th birthday was celebrated by retrospectives across Holland.
· Karel Christian Appel, painter and sculptor, born April 25 1921; died May 3 2006 in Zurich and was buried in Paris. Neither chart is rectified but approximations.