Cobra: A History of a European Avant-Garde Movement
Published by nai010 publishers.
Edited by Willemijn Stokvis.
The Cobra artists combined creative freedom and social engagement
Radical and transnational (the group’s name derives from the main urban centers of the movement--Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam), the postwar artist’s group Cobra caused a revolution in modern art in just three years of active work that continues to influence artists to this day. Willemijn Stokvis’ classic text on the group, Cobra: A History of a European Avant-Garde Movement was first published in 1974, and is now available in English for the first time, fully updated from the 1974 edition. In this comprehensive, richly illustrated volume, Stokvis (a leading authority on the movement) presents the history of Cobra through primary documents, conversations and correspondence conducted with the artists themselves and the movement’s eyewitnesses.
Cobra was active from its founding in November 1948 to its official disbanding in 1951, and included artists such as Asger Jorn, Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Constant and Corneille. Creative freedom, experimentation and social engagement were the driving forces of the movement, which married a primitivist eye for the raw creativity in the art of children and the mentally ill with a Marxist interpretation of the world to come. 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 expressionist paintings of distorted figures that provided a more emotional and ideological European counterpoint to the roughly contemporary “action painting” of the Abstract Expressionists in the United States. After the group’s dissolution, some of Cobra’s members were inherited by the Situationist International.
Willemijn Stokvis is a leading authority on the Cobra movement and the author of various books, exhibition catalogues and articles about this group. She received the 1975 Karel van Mander Award for her 1973 dissertation on Cobra.