Karel Appel working in his studio, c. 1993. Photo: Nico Koster. Credit: Nationaal Archief/Collectie Spaarnestad/ANP/Fotograaf onbekend.
Broadcasts: Karel Appel's Out of Nature

Blum & Poe, in collaboration with the Karel Appel Foundation, is pleased to present six paintings by influential Dutch artist Karel Appel (1921-2006) from his mid 1990s series Out of Nature. Appel painted these works in New York, and they are visually coded with his love for the city and the generative experiences he had there over the course of a lifetime.

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Karel Appel, Out of Nature, 1995
Oil on canvas
60 1/4 x 48 x 2 inches
© Karel Appel Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam
Karel Appel, Out of Nature, 1995
Oil on canvas
60 1/4 x 48 x 1 3/4 inches
© Karel Appel Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam

Through the years, Appel came to establish multiple studios across the globe that he would travel to for a shift in environment, light, and daily rhythm. Some locations were incubators for contemplation, and others offered excitement and community. As art historian Rudi Fuchs told it in 1990, “Each of the studios has its own atmosphere. The one in New York is, I think, the most charged. There he is the closest to the ‘art scene’ of older and younger artists whom he keeps a pretty close eye on (life in the studio is not confinement), and it is because of this that the New York studio is the most experimental.”

Karel Appel, Out of Nature, 1996
Oil on canvas
60 1/4 x 48 x 1 3/4 inches
© Karel Appel Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam
Karel Appel, Out of Nature (Evening Glow), 1995
Oil on canvas
60 x 48 x 1 3/4 inches
© Karel Appel Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam

Although Appel created these Out of Nature works in 1995 as a mature artist in his seventies, stylistically they channel a seminal and nostalgic time for the artist in 1950s New York in which he was surrounded by cultural producers of the era’s avant-garde including Sam Francis, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and jazz luminaries Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Count Basie, and Sarah Vaughan. This timeframe followed his co-founding of the playful, spontaneous CoBrA group (1948-51), a decade in which his practice focused on the immediacy of painterly expression and the uninhibited artistic experience.

Karel Appel working in his studio, c. 1993. Photo: Nico Koster. Credit: Nationaal Archief/Collectie Spaarnestad/ANP/Fotograaf onbekend.
Karel Appel, Out of Nature (Raindrops), 1995
Oil on canvas
60 1/4 x 48 x 1 3/4 inches
© Karel Appel Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam
Karel Appel, Out of Nature, 1995
Oil on canvas
60 x 48 x 1 3/4 inches
© Karel Appel Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam

Appel’s work developed over his career to span a diverse oeuvre of painting, drawing, and sculpture, shifting between abstraction and figuration, sometimes rooted in more classical artistic traditions, never content to settle on one style. The Out of Nature oil paintings on five-foot canvases recall the artist as a youthful man in their primal strokes and visceral qualities. This moment in Appel’s trajectory was captured in the famous 1962 Jan Vrijman film "The Reality of Karel Appel,” in which the artist wrestles his paint onto his substrate with explosive energy. As Appel put it at the time, “I do not paint, I hit.” 

"The Reality of Karel Appel" (1961-62) directed by Jan Vrijman. Courtesy of The Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision.

Appel’s work is represented in public collections internationally, including the Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles, France; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Musée d’Art Modern et d’Art Contemporain, Liége, Belgium; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico; Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, São Paulo, Brazil; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada; National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Tate Modern, London, UK; and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel; and in all major Dutch museums, in particular the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague.


Artworks: © Karel Appel Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam

Karel Appel, installation view, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, 2020, photo: Dan Finlayson
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