3 May: Tribute to Karel Appel

OV Digital Desk
4 Min Read
Karel Appel

Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Karel Appel (25 April 1921 – 3 May 2006) was a Dutch painter, sculptor, and poet. He started painting at the age of fourteen.

Life and Career

He was born on 25 April 1921, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Karel Appel showed an early talent for art and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam from 1940 to 1943. However, his studies were interrupted by World War II, during which he went into hiding to avoid being drafted into the German army. After the war, he co-founded the avant-garde art group CoBrA (Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam) in 1948, which aimed to break away from traditional artistic conventions and embrace spontaneous and intuitive creativity.

Appel’s artistic style was characterized by bold brushstrokes, vibrant colors, and abstract forms. He often painted in a primitive and childlike manner, with a focus on raw emotion and energy. He experimented with different mediums, including oil paint, gouache, and sculpture, and his works were influenced by African and Oceanic art, as well as the work of artists such as Pablo Picasso and Jean Dubuffet.


In addition to his involvement with CoBrA, Appel had a successful international career as an artist. He exhibited his works in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, including in Europe, the United States, and Asia. He also received several prestigious awards for his contributions to art, including the UNESCO Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1954, the Guggenheim International Award in 1960, and the Carnegie Prize in 1970.

Karel Appel passed away on 3 May 2006 in Zurich, Switzerland, at the age of 85. His death marked the end of a prolific and influential career in the art world, leaving behind a legacy of bold and expressive artworks that continue to captivate audiences to this day.

Award and Legacy

Throughout his career, Karel Appel received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to art. In addition to the awards mentioned above, he was also awarded the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 1990, which is one of the highest honors bestowed upon individuals in the Netherlands.


Appel’s legacy as an artist is significant. He is considered one of the most important Dutch artists of the 20th century and has left an indelible mark on the art world with his innovative and expressive style. His works can be found in major museums and collections around the world, and his influence can be seen in the works of many contemporary artists.

Karel Appel was a prominent Dutch painter and sculptor known for his expressive and colorful artworks. He co-founded the CoBrA art movement and had a successful international career, receiving numerous awards for his contributions to art. His bold and vibrant style continues to inspire and captivate audiences, and he is remembered as one of the most important artists of his time.

On 25 April 2011, Google celebrated the 90th Birthday of Karel Appel with a doodle.

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