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The Illusion of the American Frontier

From 03 November 2015 to 07 February 2016

Early booking is recommended

Edward S. Curtis
An Oasis in the Badlands (detail), 1905
Photography, gelatin silver. 15.2 x 20.2 cm
Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Karel Appel
Wild Horses
Oil on canvas
194.5 x 113 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Numero de inventario
INV. Nr. 454 (1976.61)

More information about this work

During the years immediately after the Second World War, the Dutch painter Karel Appel, together with Constant, Corneille, Asger Jorn and Christian Dotremont, founded the movement known as CoBrA, an acronym of Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. With the aim of taking a stand against Surrealism, the members of this heterogeneous group advocated an impastoed style of painting that was free and spontaneous, childish even, characterised by its violent expressiveness and impetuous gesture stemming from their rejection of all earlier artistic norms.

Wild Horses, a large canvas dated 1954, evidences Appel’s sweeping, gestural style. His originality lies in his freedom of action, in the impulsive movement in which the thick brushstrokes are applied in garish colours, giving shape to an amorphous, clumsily modeled figure with a fanciful appearance, in which the artist seems to hint at a wicked smile and a large eye that becomes a tunnel leading to unknown depths. The violent brushstrokes with which the paint in primary colours is applied contribute to disfiguring the image in an irreversible metamorphosis and to creating an overall effect of confusing, indeterminate plasticity. The viewer is struck by the creative violence from which emerges this grotesque form and which may recall that of the German Expressionists of the start of the century, whose tragic sense of existence was shared by Appel.

Paloma Alarcó

© 2009 Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Paseo del Prado 8, 28014 Madrid, España

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