Human Animals | The Art of Cobra, 2016

Human Animals | The Art of Cobra


Organized by NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale and guest-curated by UMass Amherst assistant professor Karen Kurczynski, a leading scholar of Danish Cobra artist Asger Jorn (1914–1973), who represents a new generation of art historians specializing in Cobra, the exhibition presents the history of Cobra through paintings, sculpture, prints, and primary documents by artists such as Asger Jorn, Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Constant, and Corneille.

The exhibition reexamines the unique meeting of a group of young painters and poets brought together by an optimistic determination to start over after the war and a shared interest in spontaneity and myth, as well as folk art and children’s art. Rejecting both naturalism and pure abstraction at the end of the Second World War, 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 U.S.

In keeping with the exhibition’s assertion that Cobra has particular resonance with contemporary art practice, the design of Human Animals: The Art of Cobra reflects the innovative installations of the first Cobra exhibitions that were designed by Dutch avant-garde architect Aldo van Eyck, with a re-working of the “Poet’s Cage” featured in the landmark 1949 Cobra exhibition in Amsterdam. This brings an additional layer of trans-historical dialogue to the project. All Cobra art in the exhibition is from the Golda and Meyer Marks Collection at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, the largest assembly of Cobra art work in a U.S. Museum.

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    Maria Bastos-Stanek
    Rebecca Han
    Emily Devoe


    University Museum of Contemporary Art





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