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A group of Expressionist painters formed in Paris in 1948 by a number of Netherlandish and Scandinavian artists. The name derived from the first letters of the capital cities of the three countries of the artists involved—Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam. The Dutchman Karel Appel, the Belgian Corneille (Cornelis van Beverloo) (1922–2010), and the Dane Asger Jorn (1914–73) were the leading founder members. Those who joined later included the Belgian painter Pierre Alechinsky (b 1927) and the Scottish painter William Gear (1915–97). The aim of the Cobra artists was to exploit free expression of the unconscious, unimpeded and undirected by the intellect. In their emphasis on spontaneous gesture, they had affinities with the American Action Painters, but they differed in their strange and fantastic imagery, related in some cases to Nordic mythology and folklore, in others to various magical or mystical symbols of the unconscious. Their approach was similar to the exponents of Art Informel, but was more savage and vigorously expressive. The group arranged Cobra exhibitions at Copenhagen (1948), Amsterdam (1949), and Liège (1951), before disbanding in 1951.

Subjects: Art.

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