Constant Nieuwenhuys-Fauna, 1949


Tom Haartsen

Cobra 75: Freedom Without Borders

Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst
Amstelveen, NL



The exhibition Freedom without Borders. From Appel to Van Gogh is the highlight of the anniversary year in which we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the international Cobra movement (1948 – 1951)! A must-see for anyone interested in modern art and a unique opportunity to see these revolutionary and inspiring works up close.

Discover surprising combinations in this exhibition featuring 120 artworks by artists such as Klee, Picasso, Appel, Van Gogh, Constant, Miró, Ferlov, Beckmann, Alechinsky, Pollock, De Kooning, Basquiat, Corneille, Van der Gaag, Brown, Schwitters and Munch. 

Freedom without Borders shows Cobra art in relation to precursors, contemporaries and contemporary artists. Extraordinary, impressive and sometimes refined works of art show how the creative energy and freedom of the Cobra movement are still a source of inspiration for artists today. Placing the artworks next to or close to each other creates new connections and perspectives.

Cobra artists such as Appel, Constant, Alechinsky, Corneille, Jorn, Götz and Van der Gaag, are shown alongside precursors 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 successors such as Baselitz, A.R. Penck, Martha Jungwirth, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tal R, Cecily Brown and Eva Räder.

The exhibition pays special attention to the work of a group of women artists, from Lotti van der Gaag, Ferdi, Jacqueline de Jong, Frieda Hunziker and Dora Tuynman to Judit Reigl, Cecily Brown and Tanja Ritterbex. Especially for those starting their practice in the 1950s and 1960s, opportunities to show their work were limited. In an art world dominated by male colleagues, it was not easy to break through as an artist or to be treated as an equal.

75 years of Cobra 
‘We wanted to start afresh, like a child.’ With this statement, artist Karel Appel articulated one of the main tenets of the international Cobra movement (1948-1951). After a time when all expression had been suppressed and in most cities the ruins of the Second World War had yet to be cleared away, freedom and vitality became key concepts for the Cobra artists.

Cobra was an international movement of young, progressive artists. In the years after the Second World War, they caused a revolution: a breakthrough in modern art and certain aspects of which still permeate art views and artistic expressions today. The movement was officially founded on 8 November 1948 in Paris. The name Cobra is a compound of: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. The capitals where the founders of this artist group came from. Jorn from Denmark, Dotremont and Noiret from Belgium, Appel, Corneille and Constant from the Netherlands. Later, more artists joined and together they completely changed tack.

Guest curator
The exhibition Freedom without Borders has been curated by guest curator Maarten Bertheux. He has made several exhibitions with Cobra artists and is familiar with the Cobra Museum’s collection. Bertheux was previously a curator at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

Richly illustrated catalogue 
A bilingual catalogue has been published especially for this special celebration in collaboration with Waanders Publishers. The book is available for €29.95 at the museum shop. The catalogue includes contributions by art critic and author Joke de Wolf, guest curator Maarten Bertheux and former Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam director Rudi Fuchs.

Summer at the Cobra Museum: podcast, Cobra treats!, evening opening
A podcast will be released (in Dutch) in which several art lovers, including Jeroen Krabbé, share anecdotes about their connection to Cobra art. During the Cobra treats! weekends (at the end of each month), special activities have been planned. One of these is a musical lecture by jazz musician Michael Varekamp, which will also highlight the important role jazz music played in the Cobra movement. During the summer months from 8 June to 6 October, the museum will be open until 8pm on Thursdays and Fridays. The museum café and its terrace will also remain open until that time.


    2 June 2023 - 8 October 2023


    Maarten Bertheux


    From Appel to Van Gogh

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    Title Year
    Grenzeloos en Vrij 2023

    No other related bibliography items available