Human Animals: The Art of Cobra 

September 15  – November 20, 2016

 




Guest curated by UMass Art History Assistant Professor Karen Kurczynski

September 15 – November 20, 2016

Opening Reception: September 14, 6 – 8 p.m.
 
Organized by NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale and guest-curated by UMass Amherst assistant professor Karen Kurczynski, a leading scholar of Danish Cobra artist Asger Jorn (1914–1973), who represents a new generation of art historians specializing in Cobra, the exhibition presents the history of Cobra through paintings, sculpture, prints, and primary documents by artists such as Asger Jorn, Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Constant, and Corneille.

The exhibition reexamines the unique meeting of a group of young painters and poets brought together by an optimistic determination to start over after the war and a shared interest in spontaneity and myth, as well as folk art and children’s art. 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 paintings of distorted figures that provided a more symbolic and political European counterpoint to the roughly contemporary “action painting” of the Abstract Expressionists in the U.S.

In keeping with the exhibition’s assertion that Cobra has particular resonance with contemporary art practice, the design of Human Animals: The Art of Cobra reflects the innovative installations of the first Cobra exhibitions that were designed by Dutch avant-garde architect Aldo van Eyck, with a re-working of the “Poet’s Cage” featured in the landmark 1949 Cobra exhibition in Amsterdam. This brings an additional layer of trans-historical dialogue to the project. All Cobra art in the exhibition is from the Golda and Meyer Marks Collection at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, the largest assembly of Cobra art work in a U.S. Museum.

Karel Appel, Wafting in the Wind, 1975
Karel Appel, Wafting in the Wind, 1975


Sponsors:
Human Animals: The Art of Cobra is organized by the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, curated by Karen Kurczynski, Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The exhibition is supported through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge with additional funding provided by Linda J. Marks and Stephen R. Marks.

This program is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.

The UMCA gratefully acknowledges Grumbacher; the Danish Arts Foundation; German and Scandinavian Studies at UMass Amherst; the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; Blum + Poe Gallery, Los Angeles; Cheim & Read Gallery, NY; and Galerie van de Loo, Munich; for their support of this exhibition.

Dutch Culture USA      Consulate General of Denmark

Grumbacher

Events

TOUR OF THE EXHIBITIONS + POETRY READING

Thursday, November 3rd, 6 - 7 PM
Cobra scholar and curator of the exhibition Karen Kurczynski, UMass Professor of Art History, will talk about Cobra and its Legacy. Cobra Poetry performance in the historical ‘cage’ environment. In conjunction with the Amherst Arts Night Plus.

Herbert Gentry, Arrival, 1999 
Herbert Gentry, Arrival, 1999

More About Cobra (click icon to download)

Human Animals: The Art of Cobra Booklet Click to Download
Cobra labels Click to Download
Cobra wall texts Click to Download
Cobra poems Click to Download

Publicity

2016-10-07 Hampshire Life Click to Download 
2016-10-06 Amherst Bulletin Click to Download
 
 
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Events
TOUR OF THE EXHIBITIONS

Thursday, October 6, 6 - 7 PM
Cobra scholar and curator of the exhibition Karen Kurczynski, UMass Professor of Art History, will talk about Cobra and its Legacy. In conjunction with the Amherst Arts Night Plus.

 

CRVPT PERFORMANCE: The Extronauts

Friday, October 14, 7:30 PM
 
The Connecticut River Valley Poets and Theater (CRVPT) Group will perform a wordless poem inspired by the exhibition
Human Animals: The Art of Cobra …. and Its Legacy. More…

The performance will take place in the cage, a historically accurate replica of the original one used by CoBrA artists. Careful: Audience participation.
 
 Nicole Eisenman, Untitled (Balloon Heads), 1998