The Dutch artist, sculptor and ceramist Karel Appel was educated at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam and was one of the key figures within the CoBrA group from the very start. He was known as a working-class rebel and even became one of the CoBrA group icons.

Appel strove for freedom in everything and most certainly in his art. He developed his trademark imaginative depictions of people, animals and creatures in the late 1940s – often with grotesque expressions, large heads and childishly wide-open eyes. Appel painted in pure colours and simple shapes – a far cry from all the academic rules – with the aim of avoiding awareness of maturity in his art. He was mainly inspired by children’s drawings, as they tended to be spontaneous and naive.

Karel Appel felt a constant need to express himself and usually allowed his moods to determine the content of a particular work, the execution itself almost becoming like a physical liberation for him. These free, undisciplined actions during the artistic creation process were absolutely fundamental to Karel Appel.

Appel exhibited in Paris (Studio Paul Facchetti) and later also in New York (Martha Jackson Gallery) in 1954. New York was a place which particularly inspired him.

Appel often used a very pasty painting style in his later career, whereby he always remained faithful to the CoBrA principles. His art is characterised by a raw power which continues to fascinate art collectors right across the world.