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(1921 – 2006), Netherlands

Karel Appel Biography

Qualifying Karel Appel (1921–2006) as one of the internationally best renowned Dutch artists of the 20th century may be misleading, as he left the Netherlands already in 1950 for good to realise his long career predominantly between Paris and New York. In this perspective, he may be considered as truly international, not belonging to one particular country in the first place.

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Appel was one of the founders of CoBrA. Then Michel Tapié, whom he had met in Paris through Hugo Claus, featured him in his Art Autre exhibition. Tapié, then, introduced him to Martha Jackson, who, starting with an exhibition in 1954 would become his New York gallery for almost twenty years. Also, Willem Sandberg, the then director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, was an early supporter: He sent his friend, James Johnson Sweeney, director of the Guggenheim Museum on visit in Paris, to Appel’s studio in the Rue de Santeuil. All this made Karel Appel in his early 30's already a name in the international avant-garde of the 1950's. His expressionist and intuitive approach to painting was fitting perfectly well within this context. However, as abstraction had almost become an orthodoxy, his painting style, not being entirely abstract, set him apart. The primordial example for the intermediate position between abstraction and figuration was of course provided by Picasso. Appel appropriated this in his own, very peculiar manner, oscillating between both, and became in turn a reference for younger artists, who opposed abstraction but wouldn’t return to figuration for that matter.

Appel once said that, while Amsterdam had been the city of his youth, Paris was the city of his development–what he had learned in Paris was crucial. So, it would seem only natural, that after a long and entirely international career, he is buried at Père-Lachaise in Paris. However, in the course of the globalisation of art, this very peculiar role of its historical capital for Appels oeuvre had fallen somewhat in oblivion, but in recent years, several important exhibitions in Paris, The Hague and Washington have contributed to rectify the record.

Text courtesy Almine Rech.

Karel Appel
featured artworks

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Untitled by Karel Appel contemporary artwork painting
Karel Appel Untitled, c. 1970s Acrylic on paper
62.9 x 47.6 cm
Hollis Taggart Request Price & Availability
Head by Karel Appel contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Karel Appel Head, 1975 Acrylic on polyurethane foam, on a wooden base
58 x 29 x 21.5 cm
Almine Rech Request Price & Availability
Personage by Karel Appel contemporary artwork painting
Karel Appel Personage, 1969 Oil on canvas
92 x 73 cm
Almine Rech Request Price & Availability
Eternal Space of Being 8 by Karel Appel contemporary artwork painting
Karel Appel Eternal Space of Being 8, 1990 Oil and acrylic on canvas
190 x 228.5 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Request Price & Availability
Composition by Karel Appel contemporary artwork painting
Karel Appel Composition, c. 1960 Acrylic on canvas
46.4 x 55.2 cm
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Hollis Taggart
Zittend naakt by Karel Appel contemporary artwork painting
Karel Appel Zittend naakt, 2000 Oil on canvas
260 x 200 cm
Almine Rech Request Price & Availability
Standing Nude by Karel Appel contemporary artwork mixed media
Karel Appel Standing Nude, 2000 Oil and acrylic on canvas
260 x 200 cm
Almine Rech Request Price & Availability
Nude (Nude Series) by Karel Appel contemporary artwork painting
Karel Appel Nude (Nude Series), 1962 Oil on canvas
160 x 130 cm
Almine Rech Request Price & Availability
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Karel Appel
current & recent
exhibitions

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Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium
Almine Rech London, New York, Shanghai, Paris, Brussels +2
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Karel Appel in
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