various-locations

View of “Cobra,” 2008–2009, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, 2009. Photo: Luc Schrobiltgen.

Cobra

Various Venues

View of “Cobra,” 2008–2009, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, 2009. Photo: Luc Schrobiltgen.

COBRA REMAINS frequently dismissed as a quaint and childlike pictorial style depicting colorful monsters. But the movement’s legacy is far from simple. Formed in Paris in 1948, Cobra connected an international group of artists (from many more cities than just the “Copenhagen/Brussels/Amsterdam” its acronym indicates) isolated by the war and eager for renewed collaboration. Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Christian Dotremont, Asger Jorn, and Joseph Noiret all signed the collective’s manifesto; Pierre Alechinsky and others joined shortly thereafter. Together, they aimed to reanimate modes of spontaneous expression as a collective and materialist endeavor (inspired equally by neo-Marxism and by the philosophy of Gaston Bachelard). But the group existed only until 1951, its demise coinciding with the violent division of the world between the two cold-war superpowers—one of

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