Dutch painter, sculptor, and poet Karel Appel was born in Amsterdam. His father was a barber and Karel was to follow in these footsteps. He chose art school instead (Rijksacademie voor Beeldende Kunsten). After the Second World War he travelled to Liege and Paris. In November 1948, COBRA was born: an international movement of artists who worked experimentally that evolved from the criticisms of Western society and a common desire to break away from existing art movements. Experimentation was the symbol of an unfettered freedom. Appel was one of its founding members.
He drew inspiration from primitive art, children’s drawings, and outsider art, which he called unspoiled and pure. Appel painted spontaneously and created his compositions as he worked. He used to say: 'I just mess around'.
Appel painted and made collages and sculptures using simple forms and vivid colours. In 1953, he made his name internationally at the São Paolo Biënnale. This led to exhibitions around the world. By 1990, he had studios in New York, Connecticut, Monaco, and Tuscany.
His work is to be found in all major modern museum collections in the world.