Karel Appel

Exodus No. 1

Appel Exodus No 1 Blum Poe 1500
  • Karel Appel
  • Exodus No. 1
  • 1951
  • Gouache and colored paper on brown kraft pieces of paper applied on paper
  • 100 x 65 cm
  • Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève, Switzerland. Courtesy Applicat-Prazan, Paris © K. Appel Foundation/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016. Image courtesy of the Foundation and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo

The biblical scale of the aftermath of World War II is referenced in Karel Appel’s Exodus no 1 (1951), symbolizing the flight of millions of people from the
defeated Third Reich. Evacuees tried to take along as many belongings as possible, which is reflected in the stack of items bundled atop a small cart,
including an animal that floats alongside the cart and a figure holding a doll or a small child. Human features such as arms or legs, wide-open eyes, and
a mouth can also be distinguished in this collage. Although the cart and its contents are rendered inplayful colors, the murky background hints at the
journey’s dark circumstances.

The free-form lines and shapes evoke both the artist’s aggressive handling of materials and a spirit of childlike innocence, an approach
that liberated him from academic restrictions.

Petronela Soltész

Biography of Karel Appel

  • Born 1921 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Died 2006 in Zurich, Switzerland
Karel Appel studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (State Academy of Fine Arts) in Amsterdam during the early 1940s. He co-founded the Nederlandse Experimentele Groep (Dutch Experimental Group) in 1948, which merged later that year with artists in Copenhagen and Brussels to form the avant-garde collective CoBrA. Influenced by folk, children’s and modern art, Appel created a controversial mural called Vragende Kinderen (Questioning Children) in 1949 for Amsterdam’s city hall; it was covered up for ten years. Appel settled in Paris in 1950, and after two years detached himself from CoBrA. He then became part of an artistic movement centered around the critic Michel Tapié (1909–1987) known as art informel (or art autre). Appel is best known for his expressive and colorful paintings depicting fabulous creatures and masks, but also experimented fruitfully in other mediums and artistic fields. He was awarded solo shows at the Palais des Beaux-Arts (Palace of Fine Arts), Brussels, in 1953 and at Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, in 1954. He received the UNESCO Prize at the 1954 Venice Biennale and the Guggenheim International Award in 1960. His later work included a collaboration with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) in the 1980s.