Hiroshima Child (1958), by contrast, is defined by the energy and intensity with which Appel applied the paint. The thick impasto of black, white, and red suggests human limbs and dramatic postures: This is an apocalyptic scene which, according to the title, refers to the first of two nuclear strikes on
Japan by the United States on August 6, 1945, near the end of World War II. Patches of yellow and white represent the deadly impact and engulf the figures.
One is tossed into the air, barely able to hold onto the child in her arms.
In both works, 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.