Human Animals: The Art of Cobra at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, July 9 – October 8, 2017

“Cobra, the interdisciplinary and trans-national European avant-garde movement named after its home cities — Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam — caused a revolution in modern art during just three years of creative activity (1948-1951) that continues to influence artists working today.  A new exhibition at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale examines Cobra artists’ innovative use of animal images and their expression of popular visual culture. Human Animals: The Art of Cobra is part of NSU Art Museum’s Regeneration series of exhibitions, and features works from the Museum’s celebrated Golda and Meyer Marks Cobra Collection, the largest Cobra art collection in America.

The exhibition presents a history of the Cobra movement through paintings, sculpture, prints and primary documents by artists such as Asger Jorn, Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Constant and Corneille, and reexamines the unique meeting of the group of young painters and poets brought together by an optimistic determination to start over after World War II, a shared interest in expressionism, myth, folk art and the art of children. Rejecting both naturalism and pure abstraction at the end of World War II, Cobra valued unbridled experimentation and creative freedom, manifested in brilliant, colorful paintings of distorted figures that provided a more symbolic and political European counterpoint to the roughly contemporary ‘action painting’ of the Abstract Expressionists in the United States.” — NSU Art Museum

Eugène Brands (Dutch; 1913-­2002). Mask, 1946. Mixed media (paper mache, cork, shells, and leather). NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Cobra Collection; gift of Golda and Meyer Marks, M-­352 © 2017 Stichting Eugène Brands

Constant (Dutch; 1920–2005). Untitled, n.d. Lithograph, edition 18/190. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Cobra Collection; gift of Golda and Meyer Marks, M-­620 © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam

Corneille (Belgian-­born Dutch; 1922-­2010). L’ Oiseau-­Papillon (The Butterfly Bird), 1978. Color lithograph. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Cobra Collection; gift of Golda and Meyer Marks, M-­117 © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Corneille (Belgian-­born Dutch; 1922-­2010). Herbes (Grass), 1973. Gouache and watercolor on lithograph. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Cobra Collection; gift of Golda and Meyer Marks, M-­693.f © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Corneille (Belgian-­born Dutch; 1922-­2010. Tête Pensive (Pensive Head), 1980. Color lithograph. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Cobra Collection; gift of Golda and Meyer Marks, M-­659 © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Sephen Gilbert (Scottish; 1910–2007). Untitled, 1948. Oil on canva. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Cobra Collection; gift of Golda and Meyer Marks, M-­67 © Stephen Gilbert

Egill Jacobsen (Danish; 1910-­1998). To gule figurer (Two Yellow Figures), 1942. Oil on canvas. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Cobra Collection; gift of Golda and Meyer Marks, M-­232 © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / http://www.copydanbilleder.dk

The exhibition is organized by NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale and guest curated by Karen Kurczynski a leading scholar who represents a new generation of art historians specializing in Cobra.

Images courtesy NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.