(movement, november 1948-november 1951)


CoBrA .It began in Denmark Cobra was chosen as the name, taken from the names of the 3 cities involved. COpenhagen, BRussels and Amsterdam. Copenhagen is the head, Brussels is the body, and Amsterdam is the tail of the Cobra…. Klee and CoBra. Paul Klee in particular was greatly influenced by the work and the particular qualities of children’s art, as his finger paintings and puppets, as well as his writings, attest. Following Klee’s lead, and in the wake of the Second World War, the loose collective of artists known as CoBrA (from the initials of the members’ home cities of Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam) embraced childhood creativity as a redemptive freedom against the comparative formal strictures of earlier avant gardes. Buy the book at amazon.com

The COBRA Avant-Garde Art

Cobra is a group that comprises of European artists that promotes avant-garde movement. It existed from the year 1948 to 1951. It was Christian Dotremont who gave meaning to the word COBRA- it is the initials of the home cities of the varying members of the group which includes Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Some of the notable artists gave life to the COBRA movement. These include big names in the art scenes such as Constant, Christian Dotremont, Corneille, Karel Appel, Joseph Noiret and Asger John. It officially become a movement on November 8, year 1948 in a quaint coffee place-  Café Notre Dame in city of Paris.

November 8 not only marked the date of the birth of this movement, but it is also the day that group’s manifesto was signed. It was entitled "La Cause Était Entendue" or “The Case was Settled”. This document was drafted by Dotremont himself. The manifesto proclaimed the movement’s unified doctrine of utter freedom in color and in form. It also speaks of apathy for Surrealism. Artists of different influences converged in the group with admiration for Marxism and Modernism.

Cobra Movement Art

Their artworks and masterpieces were inspired with a number of things but mainly based on spontaneity and experimental art. Some of the group’s inspirations are children’s drawings, Paul Klee art pieces, Joan Miro and even ancient and primitive art.

There are a number of achievements that the group has achieved including publishing the periodical Cobra. It is a series of artwork collaborations between COBRA members and other exhibitors, a group who are called Peintures-Mot. The two groups produced two exhibitions of large scale art pieces. One was held in Amsterdam (Stedelijk Museum) and in Leiege (Palais des Beaux-Arts).

By the year 1949, the movement changed its name from COBRA to Internationale des Artistes Expérimentaux. This is primarily because the group doesn’t want to restrict its membership by location or entertain only artist from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. Armed with a new name, the group’s membership spread worldwide in countries like the USA and Europe. The name never really made it big and was eventually banned in the year 1951.

Although disbanded, a lot of its members remained very close to each other and continued working and collaborating with each other. It was later on attributed to COBRA the birth and development of European and Tachisme abstract expressionism.

Cobra Art by Paul Klee

COBRA is still celebrated today and even recognized as a big influence in modern art, especially in avant-garde work. It spread the beauty of semi-abstract paintings that consists of brilliant and colorful strokes. Violent brushworks are also a signature among their art pieces. Other medium includes distorted human figures. All art works are greatly inspired by culture and folk art, including primitive art designs and influences.

The legacy of the COBRA artists lives on. There is a Cobra Museum built in Amstelveen in the country of Netherlands. Here, there are many works Karel Appel, a famed COBRA member along with other awesome avant-garde work from international artists all over the globe influenced by the COBRA movement.

Artists Cobra:
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Website dedicated to the Cobra artmovement.
It was in the Paris café Notre Dame that Asger Jorn (from Copenhagen), Joseph Noiret and Christian Dotremont (from Brussels) and Constant, Corneille and Karel Appel (from Amsterdam) signed the manifesto ‘La Cause était entendue’ (The Case was Heard). This manifesto, drawn up by Dotremont, was a response to a statement by the French Surrealists entitled ‘La Cause est entendue’ (The Case is Heard). In it Dotremont makes it clear they are no longer in agreement with the French artists. The CoBrA painters wanted to break new ground, preferring to work spontaneously and with the emphasis more on fantastic imagery. In 1951 the CoBrA movement was officially disbanded, yet during its short existence CoBrA rejuvenated Dutch modern art…
The movement has its roots in Surrealism and especially German Expressionism, but incorporates many of the attitudes and techniques of American abstract expressionism. The artists were participants in the shifts in prevailing philosophical currents of the time, from existentialism to that aspect of critical theory that took shape in Paris in the 1960s. Coalescing around the Situationiste Internationale and Guy Debord, their manifestoes and publications form the basis upon which much post-modern work of the latter half of the century found its intellectual grounding…