Artwork Detail

Heads in Space (Abstraction)
Dutch, 1921–2006
Oil on canvas
51 1/4 x 78 1/16 "
Gift of Richard K. Weil, 1963
WU 4123
© Karel Appel Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
*** Recently conserved with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. *** Karel Appel was one of the principal organizers of Cobra, an international group of artists formed immediately after World War II and dedicated to the free expression of artistic ideas. In response to the trauma of war, members rejected any preconceived principles of style, emulating instead the immediacy of experience found in the primordial and the primitive, in children’s art and the art of the insane. Championing these practices provided a way at once to register the horror of the past and to disavow it. In this work, Appel employs a bright palette, a furiously expressive style, and extreme impasto to depict two abstracted heads. The artist’s unfettered application of paint becomes as much the subject of this artwork as the figurative elements portrayed. Although painted years after the official dissolution of Cobra, Heads in Space demonstrates the artist’s continued explorations into gestural expressions of human vitality and spirit. [Permanent collection label, 2015]