Dates: 1948-1951

Origin: Europe

Key Artists: Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, Constant

A Marxist-based association of painters founded in the Café Notre-Dame, Paris, on 8 November 1948, which was active until 1951. The title is an acronym for Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam, reflecting the nationalities of the principal founder members, the Danish Asger Jorn, the Belgians Corneille (1922– ) and Pierre Alechinsky (1927– ), and the Dutch Karel Appel. Determined to produce a new Art for the People they emphasized spontaneity, while repudiating Surrealist automatism, and based their work on children’s drawings, primitive art, and the doodles of Klee. Their imagery, frequently crude and violent, was developed from Nordic myth and Jungian symbolism and they shared childlike forms and brash colour. The group, which soon included writers and poets, first exhibited together in 1949, at the 1st Exposition d’Art Expérimental in Amsterdam, to a hostile reception. A change of name to Internationale des Artistes Expérimentaux reflected the inclusion of French and German artists in the movement. They published their ideas in the COBRA Review (eight issues) and held a further exhibition at Liège in 1951 after which COBRA was dissolved.

Rodgers, David. “Cobra.” The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <;


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