The artists’ group Cobra (1948-1951) was the most important avant-garde
movement in post-war Europe following the Second World War. The founding
members came from Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. They comprised,
among others, Asger Jorn, Pierre Alechinsky, Constant, Corneille and Karel Appel,
and their spontaneous and direct manner of painting, their rebellious theories
and broad spectrum of creative expression inspired many other artists.
The experiment was crucial to Cobra. The artists worked without a preordained
plan and with a great deal of fantasy and colour, much the same way as children.
During the creative process they let themselves be influenced by myths,
children’s drawings, folk art, prehistory, Eastern calligraphy, primitive art and art
by mental patients. They also collaborated on one canvas, on one sheet of paper,
and combined words and images in a liberated way.
Cobra has been extremely meaningful especially to the Dutch art world and was
very influential in many European countries.
In Cobra. A Brief History, Willemijn Stokvis, Cobra expert and author of many
publications about the group, sketches a clear and concise account not only of
the movement’s history, but also of the relationship of this European movement
to international events in art. The unique visual material with which this book is
furthermore illustrated makes it a gem for every devotee of modern art.