Christiaan Karel Appel (1921-2006) was a Dutch painter, sculptor, and poet. He discovered the art of painting at the age of fourteen and studied at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in the 1940's. 


Appel had his first show in the city of Groningen in 1946. He also participated in the Jonge Schilders exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam.  Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Jean Dubuffet influenced Appel’s style. He took inspiration from them but channeled his energy to develop his own style and vocabulary of painting. 


Appel was one of the founding members of the influential, albeit short lived (1948-1951), avant-garde movement CoBRA. The name was not derived from the snake but from the initials of the 3 cities the founding members were from, Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam, all of which had all been under Nazi rule during WWII. Appel, and other CoBra members, took inspiration from children's artwork, pre-historic imagery, and outsider art. He was profoundly moved by the atrocities of the war and explored those themes in some of his postwar work. 


Appel’s prowess in his craft cascaded into graphic works and illustrations, sculptures, ceramic works and large decorations of buildings and rooms. Appel’s colors and childish lines reflect his sense of wonder; his work seduces viewers by reminding them of their own childhood fantasies.


Appel was known for his indefatigable work pace; his creative stamina seemed limitless. The worlds he created were the result of a his ceaseless exploration of form, color, and material.  The images which he conjured in this way were highly idiosyncratic and palpable. 


Selected Exhibitions:
1953 Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belguim
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Guggenheim Museum New York City, NY


Selected Awards:
1954 - UNESCO Prize at the Venice Biennale 
Graphics prize at the Ljubljana Biennial in Yugoslavia
1959 International Prize for Painting at the São Paulo Bienal

1960 1st prize Guggenheim International Exhibition in New York City, NY
John Solomon Guggenheim Fellowship Award - New York City, NY