Karel Appel

The Crying Crocodile Tries to Catch the Sun


Karel Appel, like Asger Jorn, was a member of the COBRA group, which emphasized material and its spontaneous application. Although the group was short-lived, its concerns endured in Appel's work. The single standing figures of humans or animals he developed during the 1950s are rendered in a deliberately awkward, naive manner, with no attempt at modeling or perspectival illusionism. Thus, the crocodile in this painting is presented as a flat and immobile form, contoured with heavy black lines in the manner of a child’s drawing. Appel’s handling of paint activates a frenzy of rhythmic movement, despite the static monumentality of the subject. The physicality of the impasto and its topographic variety allow it to reflect light and cast shadows dramatically, increasing the emotional intensity of violent color contrasts.

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Artist Karel Appel
Date 1956
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 145.5 x 113.1 cm
Credit line Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
Accession 76.2553 PG 174
Collection Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Type Painting

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