Art Term


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

Karel Appel, ‘Hip, Hip, Hoorah!’ 1949
Karel Appel
Hip, Hip, Hoorah! 1949
© Karel Appel Foundation

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. The group dissolved in the early 1950s.

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Snakes & ladders: The Cobra group, sons of the surrealists

Carter Ratcliff

Carter Ratcliff examines the legacy of COBRA, one of the 20th century's most important, though shortlived, artistic movements, whose ...

Selected artists in the collection

Selected artworks in the collection