CoBrA was an artist group formed in 1948 by artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam whose painting style was highly expressionist and inspired by the art of children

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The name CoBrA is taken from the first letters of the cities (Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam) where the group’s founder members lived. However, they welcomed the coincidental reference to the snake, since animal imagery was common in CoBrA painting. As a group they had active social and political concerns. They held a major exhibition in 1949 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam under the title International Experimental Art.

Founding members of CoBrA were Karel Appel, Asger Jorn and Constant Nieuwenhuys (known simply as Constant) and Ernest Mancoba. Other members included Stephen Gilbert, Pierre Alechinsky and Jean-Michel Atlan. The group dissolved in the early 1950s.

Further reading

Snakes & ladders
Carter Ratcliff examines the legacy of CoBra, looking at the comparrisons between CoBra and the work of the surrealists and Jean Dubuffet.