Karel Appel was a founding member of CoBrA, a group of European avant-garde artists who, in the wake of World War II (1939–45), rejected the formal aspects of traditional artmaking. They instead embraced the raw energy of child-like imagery, vivid colors, and expressive brushstrokes. The group’s name is a combination of the first letters of the members’ cities of residence: Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam. Although CoBrA was only officially active from 1948 to 1951, Appel’s interest in many of these traits continued throughout his career. He admired the domestic house cat for its aloof, yet instinctive, demeanor, and it became one of his favorite subjects. The portfolio Cats is a visual meditation on the animals’ behavior in which the artist depicts them resting, walking, stalking, frightened, and poised to attack.
Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017