Artwork by Karel Appel,  Self-Portrait

Karel Appel

gouache and collage on paper
signed and dated 1971 lower right
39 x 28 ins ( 99.1 x 71.1 cms )

Auction Estimate: $20,000.00$15,000.00 - $20,000.00

Price Realized $23,000.00
Sale date: June 25th 2014

The Collection of Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. (acquired directly from the artist as a gift to the corporation)
Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Limited, introduction by Luke Rombout, “Appel's Appels”, 1972.
Karel Appel was a Dutch painter, muralist, sculptor and poet, educated at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam. Appel helped set up the Dutch Experimental Group in Amsterdam, which soon involved other international artists to create the International CoBrA group in 1948.

Influenced by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Jean Dubuffet, Appel utilized a vibrant and spontaneous picture language typical of the controversial CoBrA artists, leading the way for a new era of expressive painting in Europe. Appel was very active during this period and developed a new style of assemblage using elements of wood and found objects in relief, and also introduced elements of narrative representation.

A Canadian touring exhibition of Karel Appel's work, called “The Apples of Appel's Eyes,” was a collaborative effort between the artist and Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Limited. Finding its inspiration from a show in Appel's native Holland two years prior, “The Apples of Appel's Eyes” featured a selection of the artist's personal favourites and new artworks created specifically for the exhibition. The exhibition made a total of nine stops between April 21, 1972 and July 9, 1973, including Montreal, Victoria, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax, London, and Toronto's own Art Gallery of Ontario. “Self-Portrait”, executed in 1971, is precisely in line with the artwork celebrated in the Canadian touring exhibition.

Appel travelled to Mexico, the United States, Yugoslavia and Brazil, garnering international acclaim with solo exhibitions along the way. The artist received the UNESCO prize at the Venice Biennale in 1954, and the first prize at the Guggenheim Internationale exhibition in 1960. The Karel Appel Foundation established in 1999 in his hometown of Amsterdam.

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Karel Appel
(1921 - 2006)

Born on April 25, 1921, in Amsterdam, Karel Appel studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten and, in 1946, held his first solo show at Het Beerenhuis, Groningen, and participated in Jonge Schilders (Young painters) at the Stedelijk Museum.

Appel drew primarily inspiration from the artists Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Jean Dubuffet. In 1948, he was a member of the Nederlandse Experimentele Groep (Dutch Experimental Group) before establishing the avant-garde movement CoBrA, with Constant Nieuwenhuys, Corneille (Guillaume Cornelis Beverloo), and other painters from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. Their unique style challenged abstraction and Surrealism, featuring bold, expressive compositions inspired by children’s doodles and folk art.

Following the group’s disbanding in 1951, Appel travelled extensively and pursued his career between Paris and New York. In 1954, he held his first gallery exhibition in the United States, and the following year, one of his paintings was included in the seminal group exhibition The New Decade at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, displaying his work alongside those by Francis Bacon, Pierre Soulages and Jean Dubuffet. Over time, his practice expanded to include sculpture, screen printing, stained glass and poetry, which continued until his death in Zürich on May 3, 2006.

Today, Appel’s works can be found in various major museums, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova in Turku, Finland, and The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.