COBRA (COpenhagen, BRussels, Amsterdam) was founded on November 8, 1948. It was a movement that included the artists Karel Appel, Constant, Pierre Alechinsky, Christian Dotremont, and Corneille, to name a few. Their shared languages included Danish, German, English and Dutch.

The movement was formed after World War II when the artists were rejecting western culture and were influenced by eastern calligraphy, naive and children's art, and art by people with disabilities. These were bold, brash, and very colorful works that included writing and symbols. The style of painterly language gave COBRA its place in the history of Modern Art. All mediums were used and this included sculpture, painting, ceramics, and written text. Poets, painters, sculptors all crossed disciplines and experimented in many formats.

COBRA was a very loosely self-defined association. Many of its members were politically engaged and had Marxist sentiments and saw their work as an instrument for change. Others were individualists who felt their work was more important than the joint presentations. All wished to break the rules and conventions of aesthetics and art theory, and to express emotion more directly without mediation. The colors take on a special significance of intensity, desire, anger, and simplicity.

It has now been 61 years since COBRA's inception, and it continues to excite and enthrall. The basic principles of experimentation, spontaneity, and anti-specialization continue to be an influence on the art of our day.


COBRA 40 years after
J. Karel P. van Stuijvenberg

Willemijn Stokvis

Jean-Clarence Lambert

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