Cobra Collection & Research Center
Introduction to Cobra Art from the NSU Art Museum Collection
NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale houses the largest collection in the United States of Cobra art, an international, interdisciplinary, and collective art movement dating from 1948-1951. Established in Paris, CoBrA is an acronym for the three European cities from which its founding members originated: CO-penhagen (Denmark), BR-ussels (Belgium), and A-msterdam (the Netherlands).
Members of Cobra were young, idealistic, avant-garde artists, philosophers, poets, and writers. They sought the realization of a new, direct, dynamic, and spontaneously realized post-World War II art that was free of Western academic traditions. They sought to create a collaborative, experimental art based on folk art, imagination, the intuitive, myth, Non-Western art, and children’s drawings.
Their bold, highly colorful, sometimes irreverent images of abstract and semi-figurative forms were imaginative and often child-like—an expression of the artists’ socialist and theoretical ideas. They often wrote poems and essays about these ideas, which they published in periodicals they organized, Cobra and Le Petit Cobra. Although the Cobra movement was short-lived, its artists worked both independently and collaboratively thereafter, often furthering the aesthetic and ideals of the Cobra movement. The work they produced after 1948 became a major force in the development of American and European modern art from mid-century to the present.
Most of the more than 1,700 works in the Museum’s collection were donated beginning in 1978 by Golda and Meyer Marks, long-time Miami Beach residents, who began collecting Cobra art in 1962. The keen eye and determination of these avid collectors resulted in the creation of a historically significant and comprehensive collection of Cobra art and archival materials.
The collection includes works by more than thirty international artists associated with Cobra, such as Pierre Alechinsky (Belgium), Jean-Michel Atlan (Algeria), Karel Appel (the Netherlands), Jacques Doucet (France), William Gear (Scotland), Stephen Gilbert (England), Karl Otto Götz (Germany), Svavar Guðnason (Iceland), Asger Jorn (Denmark), Shinkichi Tajiri (United States) and Walasse Ting (China), among others. See full list of artists in the collection.
The Knight Foundation and Linda Marks supported the publication of the catalogue, The Golda and Meyer Marks Collection of Cobra Art (Skira 2017).
Exhibition catalogues available in the Museum store include War Horses: Helhesten and the Danish Avant-Garde During World War II (NSU, 2015).
To purchase this or any other museum catalog, please contact the museum store at 954-262-0255 or email us at [email protected].
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Highlights and selected images
Cobra Artists in the Golda and Meyer Marks Cobra Collection
Image credit: Group photograph featuring numerous Danish and Dutch Cobra artists, on the occasion of the Høst group exhibition in Copenhagen, November-December 1948. Back, left to right: Sixten Wiklund, Ernest Mancoba, Carl-Henning Pedersen, Erik Ortvad, Ejler Bille, Knud Nielsen, Tage Mellerup, Aage Vogel-Jørgensen and Erik Thommesen. Middle: Karel Appel, Tonie Sluyter, Christian Dotremont, Sonja Ferlov Mancoba, Wonga Mancoba and Else Alfelt. Front: Asger Jorn, Corneille, Constant and Henry Heerup. Modification drawing by Carl-Henning Pedersen. Courtesy of the Cobra Museum.
The collection includes works by more than thirty artists from various countries
- Pierre Alechinsky: born 1927 in Brussels, Belgium, lives and works in Bougival, France
- Else Alfelt: born 1910 in Copenhagen, Denmark; died 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark
- Karel Appel: born 1921 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; died 2006 in Zurich, Switzerland
- Jean-Michel Atlan: born 1913 in Constantine, Algeria; died 1960 in Paris, France
- Mogens Balle: born 1921 in Copenhagen, Denmark; died 1988 in Asmindrup, Denmark
- Ejler Bille: born 1910 in Odder, Denmark; died 2004, Ørby, Denmark
- Eugène Brands: born 1913 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; died 2002 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- Pol Bury: born 1922 in La Louvière, Belgium; died 2005 in Paris, France
- Jacques Calonne: born 1930 in Mons, Belgium; lives and works in Belgium
- Hugo Claus: born 1929 in Bruges, Belgium; died 2008 in Antwerp, Belgium
- Constant (Constant Anton Nieuwenhuys): born 1920 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; died 2005 in Utrecht, the Netherlands
- Corneille (Guillaume Cornelis van Beverloo): born 1922 in Liège, Belgium; died 2010 in Auvers-sur-Oise, France
- Christian Dotremont: born 1922 in Tervuren, Belgium; died 1979 in Buizingen, Belgium
- Jacques Doucet: born 1924 in Boulogne-Billancourt, France; died 1994 in Paris, France
- William Gear: born 1915 in Methil, Fife, Scotland; died 1997 in Birmingham, England
- Stephen Gilbert: born 1910 in Wormit, Fife, Scotland; died 2007 in Frome, Somerset, England
- Maggi Giles: born 1938 in Cornwall, English; died 2017 in Niederbreitbach, Germany
- Karl Otto Götz (K.O. Götz): born 1914 in Aachen, Germany; died 2017 in Niederbreitbach, Germany
- Svavar Gudnason: born 1909 in Höfn í Hornafirdi, Iceland; died 1988 in Reykjavík, Iceland
- Henry Heerup: born 1907 in Copenhagen, Denmark; died 1993 in Vanløse, Denmark
- Egill Jacobsen: born 1910 in Copenhagen, Denmark; died 1998 in Copenhagen, Denmark
- Neils Jensen: born 1964 in Copenhagen, Denmark; lives and works in Mallorca, Spain
- Asger Jorn (Asger Oluf Jörgensen): born 1914 in Jutland, Denmark; died 1973 in Aarhus, Denmark
- Lucebert (Lubertus Jacobus Swaanswijk): born 1924 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; died 1994 in Alkmaar, the Netherlands
- Tage Mallerup: born 1911 in Randers, Denmark; died 1988 in Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
- Richard Mortensen: born 1910 in Copenhagen, Denmark; died January 1993 in Ejby, Denmark
- Erik Ortvad: born 1917 in Copenhagen, Denmark; died 2008 in Kvänjarp, Sweden
- Carl-Henning Pedersen: born 1913 in Copenhagen, Denmark; died 2007 in Copenhagen, Denmark
- Jean Raine: born 1927 in Schaerbeek, Belgium; died 1986 in Rochetaillée-sur-Saône, France
- Reinhoud (Reinhoud d’Haese): born 1928 in Geraardsbergen, Belgium; died 2007 in Paris, France
- Anton Rooskens: born 1906 in Griendtsveen, the Netherlands; died 1976 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- Shinkichi Tajiri: born 1923 in Los Angeles, California; died 2009 in Baarlo, the Netherlands
- Erik Thommesen: born, 1916 in Copenhagen, Denmark; died 2008 in Copenhagen, Denmark
- Walasse Ting: born 1928 in Wuxi, China; died 2010 in New York, New York
- Raoul Ubac: born 1910 in Malmedy, Belgium; died 1985 in Dieudoone, France
- Serge Vandercam: born 1924 in Copenhagen, Denmark; died 2005 in Wavre, Belgium
- Theo Wolvecamp: born 1925 in Hengelo, the Netherlands; died 1992 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Exhibitions of Cobra Art at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale
Since Mr. and Mrs. Marks’ initial donation in 1978, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale has organized numerous exhibitions of Cobra art.
The Eye of CoBrA
Human Animals: The Art of CoBrA
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, University Museum of Contemporary Art (September 15–November 20, 2016)
NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale (July 9–October 8, 2017)
War Horses: Helhesten and the Danish Avant-Garde During World War II (May 17, 2015–February 7, 2016);
Carl-Henning Pedersen and Else Alfelts Museum, Herning, Denmark (March 18–August 28, 2016)
Spirit of CoBrA (November 8, 2013–May 18, 2014)
Cobra Works from the Permanent Collection (March 1–July 13, 2014)
Associations and Inspirations: The CoBrA Movement and the Arts of Africa and New Guinea (March 2–October 20, 2013)
Associations and Inspirations: The CoBrA Movement and the Arts of Africa and Oceania (May 29, 2011–September 9, 2012)
Selections from the Meyer and Golda Marks CoBrA Collection (May 8–September 10, 2010)
The Many Faces of CoBrA (October 18, 2009–September 9, 2012)
Karel Appel: In Memoriam (June 1–May 12, 2006)
CoBrA (November 3, 2006–October 22, 2007)
Appel, Dotremont & Jorn: Three Titans of CoBrA
Corneille: Works on Paper (January 1–May 12, 2002)
Selections from the Marlene & Jerome Brody CoBrA Collection (July 26–December 28, 2002)
Selections from the CoBrA Collection (March 1–June 1, 2001)
CoBrA: Revisted (January–April 2000)
CoBrA: A Celebration of Anarchy (May 20–September 23, 2000)
CoBrA Puppet Gallery
Karel Appel, CoBrA’s Wild Man (January–February 1998)
CoBrA: A Celebration (January–July 1998)
Figurative CoBrA (May 3–August 10, 1994)
The Many Sides of Karel Appel (December 24, 1993–April 15, 1994)
Belgian CoBrA & Beyond (February 7–July 12, 1992)
Asger Jorn: Works on Paper (July 16, 1992–January 30, 1993)
Asger Jorn: Paintings 1940–1972 (September 12, 1992–August 15, 1993)
The Marks’ Legacy: Highlights from their CoBrA Collection (September 15, 1992–January 24, 1993)
The Danes of CoBrA (July 23, 1991–January 12, 1992)
CoBrA on Parade: A Survey (September 15, 1990–January 10, 1991)
Dutch CoBrA (September 15, 1990–July 28, 1991)
Pierre Alechinsky: Works on Paper (October 15–December 31, 1989)
Homage to Asger Jorn on the Fortieth Anniversary of the Cobra Group (December 17, 1987–April 1, 1988)
Masterworks from the Meyer and Golda Marks Cobra Art Collection (January 18–March 30, 1986)
Karel Appel, Recent Paintings and Sculpture: Clouds, Windmills, Nudes and Other Mythologies (October 1–November 30, 1986)
Karel Appel: Cobra’s Child (February 6–March 24, 1985)
Corneille: Paintings and Graphics (March 7–25, 1984)
Reinhoud: Sculpture (April 4–29, 1984)
Cobra Celebration: New York–Fort Lauderdale. Collaboration Paintings: Christian Dotremont and Mogens Balle (September 8–26, 1982).
Paintings, Prints, Sculpture, and Ceramics: Asger Jorn (September 8–26, 1982)
Cobra Art: From The Meyer and Golda Marks Collection (February 11–March 29, 1981)
Recent Acquisitions from the Permanent Collection (September 6–30, 1979)
Cobra artists arriving with their work for the November 1949 Cobra exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. From left to right: Anton Rooskens, unknown, Bert Schierbeek, Theo Wolvecamp, Eugène Brands, Karl-Otto Götz, Corneille, Jacques Doucet, Pierre Alechinsky, Tony Sluyter, Lucebert, Jan Elburg, Shinkichi Tajiri, Gerrit Kouwenaar, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Karel Appel, and Victor Nieuwenhuys (with a painting by his father). Photo by Mrs. E. Kokkorris-Syriër.
Exhibitions since 2014 have been generously supported by Linda Marks and Stephen Marks, the daughter and son of the collectors, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Wells Fargo, Dan Lewis, Jan Lewis, Dr. David & Linda Frankel, Christie’s, Jacqueline Niehaus, Lee Sider & Gregory Stanton, the David and Francie Horvitz Family Foundation, Hudson Family Foundation, Wege Foundation, Barron Family Foundation, Eric Barron & Wenise Wong, Marlène Brody, Imperfect Family Foundation, Sam Francis Foundation, Marion Lefebre & Robert S. Pynoos, Funding Arts Broward, Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, Danish Consulate and The Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York as part of the Dutch Culture USA program.
Cobra at Other Institutions
American Institutions housing major collections of Cobra Art
American Institutions housing examples of Cobra Art
International Institutions housing Cobra Art
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