Animals were among Karel Appel’s most beloved subject matter, and the CoBrA artist depicted birds, dogs, snakes, caterpillars, fish, crocodiles, and elephants throughout his career. His favorite animals to paint were cats, which the artist vivaciously portrayed through wide, multi-hued brushstrokes that transformed the pet into abstract forms.
For Appel, painting these creatures was an instinctual and even animalistic act. “I never try to make a painting,” he explained in 1956. “It is a howl, it is naked, it is like a child, it is a caged tiger.” In 2012, Appel’s Two Birds and a Flower (1951) set the auction record for the artist, selling for over $950,000 at a Christie’s auction.
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