Karel Appel is born April 25 in Amsterdam.
Appel begins painting. The next year he receives a paint set and easel from his uncle who is also an artist.
Studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam during the worst years of the war.
Visits Denmark where he becomes acquainted with the group of young painters with whom he will form Cobra. His first exhibition is held in Groningen.
Begins incorporating wood and found objects into his work and introduces narrative elements.
Appel and other young Dutch artists found the Dutch Experimental group in Amsterdam. The International Cobra group is founded in Paris and eventually merges with the Dutch Experimental group. Appel begins creating “rubbish objects” including Questioning Children.
Cobra begins publishing a periodical. Appel’s mural for the Amsterdam City Hall generates public outcry and the work remains covered by wallpaper for the next decade.
Michael Ragon becomes the voice of Cobra. Appel moves to Paris where he meets Hugo Claus, a Flemish poet, novelist, and playwright with whom he develops a close friendship.
Receives a commission to paint the foyer of the auditorium of the Stedelijik Museum in Amsterdam.
Breaks with Cobra and joins Art Informel, a group of artists which includes Henri Michaux, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Sam Francis.
Martha Jackson buys several works from Appel marking the beginning of a relationship that would last for over twenty years. While in Italy, Appel begins making ceramics based on the human head.
A solo exhibition of his work is held at the Studio Paul Facchetti, Paris. His first exhibition in the United States is held at the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York. Appel receives the UNESCO prize at the Venice Biennale.
Jean Larcade becomes his dealer in Paris.
Receives another commission from the Stedelijik Museum and begins working with stained glass.
Travels to the United States and Mexico. While in America, he paints a series of portraits of jazz musicians including Dizzie Gillespie and Sarah Vaughn.
Becomes an internationally recognized artist.
Produces a series of sculptures from the roots of olive trees.
Becomes the subject of a documentary film entitled The Reality of Karel Appel.
Collaborates with Hugo Claus on Love Song. Begins experimenting with mixed media, inserting real objects into his paintings.
Purchases and renovates the Chateau of Molesmes.
Begins making polychrome reliefs and free-standing plywood figures.
Produces “psychological relief-portraits” made from assemblages of wood on canvas.
Makes his first polychrome aluminum sculptures. Moves back to Paris. Travels extensively in Mexico, South America, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Begins using plastic foam and polyeurethane which he paints and sculpts to look like wood. Collaborates with Pierre Alechinsky and Hugo Claus on the production of Two Brush Paintings, a book of works on paper and poems.
Produces the Appel Circus cycle, a series of juxtaposed etchings and wooden carvings.
Moves to the south of France.
Begins a series of window paintings, his most abstract works up to this point.
Collaborates with Allen Ginsberg and produces a series of paintings for On the Road: the Jack Keruoac Exhibit.
Begins his Nude series.
Receives a commission from the Paris Opera to design a ballet with choreographer Min Tanaka. The finished piece entitled, Can We Dance a Landscape? receives mixed reviews.
Travels to China.
Begins working in a new style which blends architecture, painting, and sculpture.
Returns to the theme of the nude.
Becomes the subject of a second documentary. A museum dedicated to the works of Cobra artists opens in Amstelveen.
Explores light as a subject in the series The Will to Power of the Planets.
In honor of Appel’s eightieth birthday, the Stedelijik, the Cobra Museum, and the Haags Gemeentemuseum all hold exhibitions of his work.
A number of his works go missing while being transported to the Karel Appel Foundation. They will not be found until a decade later.
Produces his last series of nudes which are exhibited at the Gemeenstemusem Den Haag.
On May 3, Appel dies at his home in Zurich at the age of eighty-five.