Zentrum Paul Klee Bern Founded by Maurice E. and Martha Müller and the heirs of Paul Klee
Exhibition room - © M. Stollenwerk
Exhibition room
© M. Stollenwerk
Image 1/
25.05.2011 - 04.09.2011

Klee and Cobra. A child’s play

A cooperation with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (DK) and the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen (NL).

The fascination for childrens’ artistic expressiveness is accentuated in varying ways throughout Paul Klee’s work. Its starting point is the re-discovery of his own childhood drawings. The revelation of the childlike pictorial world was however also an important impulse for the avant-garde, and to this day is a source of inspiration for artists.

The analysis of childrens’ art and the direct collaboration with children are milestones in the foundation of Cobra. The openness towards every kind of experience and the willingness to be free from formal schemes link the Cobra artists with Paul Klee. Themes in the exhibition which have influenced both Klee’s work and that of the Cobra artists are deepened through comparisons: the cryptic character of masks and faces, the fascination with high spirits and acrobatics, for creatures, animals and fantasy beings, or forms of aggression in relationships amongst children.

The Cobra Group was founded on 8th November 1948 in Paris by Asger Jorn (1914–1973), Corneille (Corneille Guillaume Beverloo, 1922–2010), Constant Nieuwenhuys (1920–2005), Christian Dotremont (1922–1979), Joseph Noiret (born 1927) and Karel Appel (1921–2006). In 1949 the Belgian painter Pierre Alechinsky (born 1927) joins the group. The founding of the Cobra Group was substantially determined by the effects of World War II. Critical of Western society, the avant-garde artists grouped themselves together on their own initiative in Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. The name of the group indicates the initial letters of the cities Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. Altogether Cobra consisted of about fifty artists.Cobra is regarded today as a unified group, but its members were all distinctive Individualists with varying backgrounds. From Denmark it was an older generation of experimental avant-garde artists who participated. The Danish and Belgian Cobra members resorted to Nordic folk art and traditions for sources of inspiration. But for all of them childrens’ art served as an authentic source. Its own powerful expression and approach to reality fascinated the group. From 1949 on the periodical Cobra was published. On 6th November 1951 the movement was dissolved.

For the first time, the exhibition Klee and Cobra – a children’s game takes as a theme the relationship between the Cobra artists group and the work and artistic thinking of Paul Klee. It has been made possible through cooperation with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (DK) and the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen (NL).

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