Explore Artists

The CoBrA artists

Continuing our journey of ‘Paint like a child‘, we visit the CoBrA artists this week. This is an art movement that lasted for a brief period from 1948 and 1951.The CoBrA group was a group of Danish artists from  (Copenhagen), Belgian (Brussels) and Dutch (Amsterdam).

CoBrA artists

The artists in this art movement wanted to emotionally enliven the people devastated after the World War II through the art. So the art was optimistic, full of life and colour and it helped people see the brighter side of life.

The expression of art was like that of a child. The methods were intuitive and the colours were strong. in a childlike way with lots of colours and simple shapes. 

We meet three artists of the CoBrA group and visit some of their paintings.


Corneille Guillaume

Corneille was a Dutch artist who lived and worked out of Paris. He started the REFLEX movement in 1948 before being part of the CoBrA movement in 1949. He was not only an artist but also a poet who published his poems in the CoBrA magazine. His paintings used familiar subjects like sun, women, birds, cats and trees and these paintings were bursting with colours and he is used familiar. He was influenced by art of Miro and Klee. He was a ‘painter of joy’ as he rightly said.

Karel Appel

The paintings done by Karel Appel during this art movement looked as if it was painted by a child. He painted funny creature from his imagination and he thought they were the kind of strange beings you might dream about in the night. So the backgrounds of these paintings are black. His childlike imagery included birds and animals and other strange beasts. He painted in a more messier and free way.

Constant Nieuwenhuys

Constant was another founder member of CoBrA art movement. He believed that the perception of children and primitives are the ideal way to express feelings. His quote,

“The child knows no other law than their spontaneous zest for life and has no other need than to express this. The same goes for primitive people. And it’s this quality that offers so much enchantment to modern man, living in a morbid atmosphere of inauthenticity, lies and bareness.”


Children should be allowed to paint from their instincts. They should paint without thinking too much. So here we are where we are free to paint what we want. Use bright colours. The painting should make you smile. 

Visit the CoBrA artists style to get some inspirations.

You will need:

  • Watercolor paper or canvas
  • Any bright medium like acrylics or oil pastel
  • Do not use any pencil.

Here you are seeing two paintings done in oil pastels and acrylic.



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