CELEBRATING 75 YEARS OF COBRA MUSEUM: BOUNDLESS AND FREE, THE OTHER PICASSO, AND ALL CHILDREN ARTIST EXHIBITIONS
The Cobra Museum presents the new exhibitions Boundless and Free – From Appel to Basquiat, The Other Picasso – Back to the Source, and All Children Artist. These summer exhibitions are the highlight of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Cobra.
Boundless and Free From Appel to Basquiat
June 2 – October 8, 2023
With the exhibition Freedom without Borders. From Appel to Van Gogh, the Cobra Museum for Modern Art Amstelveen brings together 120 artworks by well- and lesser-known artists in surprising combinations. This year we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the international Cobra movement (1948 – 1951). The museum is marking this anniversary year with a special exhibition programme of which Freedom without Borders and The Other Picasso. Back to the Origins are the highlights.
With a parade of names, Freedom without Borders shows Cobra art in relation to (between) earlier, contemporaneous and later artists. Placing the artworks next to or close to each other creates new connections and perspectives on the meaning of Cobra art. Cobra artists such as Appel, Constant, Alechinsky, Corneille, Jorn, Götz and Van der Gaag are shown together with predecessors such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Beckmann, Schwitters, Klee, Miró and Munch. Also on show are works by contemporaries such as Pollock, Katzuo Shiraga, Dubuffet and Willem de Kooning, and more recent artists such as Baselitz, A.R. Penck, Martha Jungwirth, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tal R, Cecily Brown and Eva Räder.
Karel Appel, Vragende kinderen (Questioning children), 1951
Cobra’s art caused a commotion and it was provocative with its wild and raw images. Despite the fact that the Cobra movement officially lasted only a thousand days (1948 -1951), its experimental and provocative nature would continue to reverberate in various art expressions over the past 75 years.
The exhibition Freedom without Borders does not aim to be a historical retrospective or theoretical reflection on Cobra. Some 120 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photographs and ceramics highlight the universal character of Cobra. The starting point is to create a composition of works in which, for example, a painting by Appel is compared with a painting by Picasso, or a relief by Schwitters is placed next to a relief by Brands. Elsewhere, you can experience how the playfulness of Klee and the dreamlike shapes of Miró were important for painters like Brands, Wolvecamp and Rooskens. The exhibition gives the visitor the freedom to follow or discover connections, or to arrive at different views.
To guide visitors through the multitude of art expressions, six themes were chosen: ‘Influences’ (artists who influenced Cobra), ‘Masks and folk art’ (about the influences of folk art and art from outside Europe and North America), ‘Nature and myths’ (especially important for the Danish Cobra artists), ‘Gesture’ (referring to abstract-expressionist Action Painting in America and European tachism), ‘the Child’ (about the influence of the spontaneous unaffected expressions of the child), and finally ‘Expression’, featuring artworks from Van Gogh and early German expressionism as well as a young generation of artists close to Cobra in style or mentality.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Without title, 1982, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam c/o Pictoright 2023
The exhibition pays special attention to the work of a group of women artists such as Lotti van der Gaag, Ferdi, Jacqueline de Jong, Frieda Hunziker, Dora Tuynman, Judit Reigl, Cecily Brown and Tanja Ritterbex. Especially those who were already working in the 1950s and 1960s still had few opportunities to show their work. In an art world dominated by male colleagues, it was not easy to break through or get treated equally.
Paul Klee, die Vase, 1938
Right: Constant, Fauna, 1949 – Left: Frieda Hunziker, Libelle, 1954
The Other Picasso Back to the Source
June 2 – October 8, 2023
This year not only marks the 75th anniversary of the Cobra movement. In 2023, it will be 50 years since the death of one of the most famous artists of the 20th century: Pablo Picasso. The Cobra Museum pays tribute to the artist with the exhibition The
Other Picasso. Back to the Origins.
The Other Picasso features a lesser-known part of Picasso’s oeuvre. A selection of almost a hundred artworks from both public and private collections highlights Picasso’s mastery and imaginative spirit. From drawings and etchings to ceramics, his great fascination.
Pablo Picasso, Mains tenant un Poisson, 1953, ceramics
Back to the origin
In his career, Picasso always returned to his childhood and cultural background, in which themes of love and death, beauty and the monster, the artist and his model played a major role, as did his love of dance and theatre. He can be considered to be one of the greatest pioneers in new forms in modern art and, in addition, he was an inspiration to untold numbers of artists, including those of Cobra. “Every child is an artist” is one of his most famous statements.
Less well known is that Picasso designed the sets, costumes and monumental stage curtain for the ballet performance Le Tricorne. The ballet was choreographed by Léonide Massine with music by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. The prominent Spanish composer welcomed Picasso’s creative suggestions with open arms. It was premiered by the avant- garde Paris Ballets Russes, the most influential ballet company of the 20th century, on 22 July 1919 at the Alhambra Theatre in London. The exhibition also shows this side of Picasso, supported by a video of Le Tricorne by the Spanish National Ballet.
Literature was a great source of creativity for Picasso. Especially the Greek and Roman classics, but also the poets from his circles including Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Paul Eluard. Part of the exhibition is dedicated to the illustrations he made for their work. A leading role is given to Picasso’s own play with language, using the written word as a form of expressionism.
Picasso became familiar with ceramics while growing up in Malaga. During his adult years on the Mediterranean coast of southern France, just after the tumult of World War II, he found a new way to express himself creatively. It gave him a way to honour his cultural and personal heritage. He felt like an apprentice again, an experimental alchemist who did not yet have complete control over the outcome of his works.
Pablo Picasso, Taureau, 1955, Collection Serra, Mallorca, photograph: David Bonet c/o Pictoright 2023
The exhibition The Other Picasso. Back to the Origins is an international collaboration between the Cobra Museum for Modern Art in Amstelveen, Kunstmuseum Moritzburg in Halle (Germany), various Spanish institutions, C2C Proyectos Culturales in Malaga (Spain) and Expon.
The exhibition The Other Picasso. Back to the Origins is accompanied by a multilingual and richly illustrated publication that is available for sale in the museum shop.
Workshop drawing robot
Around the first signs of puberty, many children lose that free, spontaneous way of drawing. They look at what their classmates are drawing and compare it to their own drawings, and it has to be as realistic as possible. And with that, so much imagination, freedom and plain courage to draw is lost. Wail Kherriazi, a student in the 2nd year of the Keizer Karel College, provides a solution with his drawing robot. The robot randomly draws a beginning of a drawing. Participants in the workshop, all peers of Wail, complete the set-up. And then a nose may just end up on the side of a face.
Picasso and his women
A lecture and table discussion on machismo in our time with curator Naja Rasmussen. She researched Picasso’s machismo and how he related to his wives and ‘muses’. Rasmussen is the artistic director of Kunstmuseum Brandts in Odense, Denmark, and also curated the current Becoming Ovartaci exhibition at the Cobra Museum.
Pablo Picasso, Taureau, 1955
All Children Artist
June 2 – October 8, 2023
The Cobra Museum showcases drawings by a group of special “artists in the making”: 40 children from 13 different countries. The presentation All Children Artist is curated by actor, painter, and art program maker Jeroen Krabbé and art educator and cultural advisor Annefie van Itterzon.
The children’s drawings in the presentation were collected between 1983 and 2021 by Annefie van Itterzon. Last year, she donated over 900 children’s drawings to the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE). Jeroen Krabbé, together with Van Itterzon, selected 40 children’s drawings from this donation for the exhibition at the Cobra Museum. Two of his own childhood drawings will also be included. The presentation aligns with the ideas of renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso and the Cobra members, who saw children’s drawings as a source of expressive richness.
(Left: Child’s Drawing by Jeroen Krabbé (11 years old), Chagall Fish, 1956)
Cobra was an international movement of young, progressive artists. In the years following World War II, they caused a revolution: a breakthrough in modern art, the influence of which still resonates in artistic concepts and expressions today. The movement was officially founded on November 8, 1948, in Paris. The name Cobra is an acronym derived from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam—the capitals from which the founders of this group originated. Jorn from Denmark, Dotremont and Noiret from Belgium, Appel, Corneille, and Constant from the Netherlands. Later, more artists joined, and together they completely changed course.
With thanks to:
This exhibition is made possible in part by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. The anniversary program is made possible by our partners and generous supporters. We would like to extend special thanks to the municipality of Amstelveen, VriendenLoterij, Trebbe, BPD, Rabobank Amstel & Vecht, Hizkia, Zabawas, Blockbusterfonds, KEIM, and the Cobra Business Club.