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Belgium 1995.  Pierre Alechinsky: "Sauvagemont, Maransart". Cuba 1967.  Pierre Alechinsky, "Live Cobra". 

CoBrA, which was founded in November 1948 by the Danish painter Asger Jorn, the Belgian painters Christian Dotremont and Christian Noiret, and the Dutch painters Karel Appel, Constant and Corneille, survived until November 1951, and can with some justification, for the time being at least, be called the last great avant-garde movement of the century. 

The name is made up of the first letters of the cities where its members lived and worked: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam.  Leading members of the group were Asger Jorn, Karel Appel, Constant and Corneille.  

In 1949 Pierre Alechinsky joined the group.  Also the Icelandic painter Svavar Gudnason (1908-1988) was a prominent member of the group.  Above are shown two paintings by Pierre Alechinsky. 
  • Belgium 2006. ATM of 0,52 €, issued for the stamp exhibition Belgica'06 and COBRA-art. 

    Scan by courtesy of Mr. Rein Bakhuizen van den Brink (The Netherlands). 

Belgium 2006. ATM of 0,52 €, issued for the stamp exhibition Belgica'06 and COBRA-art.

Denmark 2006. Else Alfelt: "Night Landscape" (1950).  Denmark 2006. Egill Jacobsen: "Man Eating Olives" (1951).  In November 2006, Denmark and Belgium issued jointly two postage stamps dedicated to CoBrA-painters, and released for the stamp exhibition Belgica'06. The complete set contains four stamps, of which two are issued jointly, the other two are national issues. Below are shown the common souvenir sheet, covering both countries, and the two Danish stamps corresponding to the sheet. 
  • Denmark 2006. Else Alfelt: "Night Landscape" (1950). 
  • Denmark 2006. Egill Jacobsen: "Man Eating Olives" (1951). 
Denmark-Belgium 2006. Cobra Art. Cobra Art. Souvenir sheet.  Denmark 2006. Asger Jorn. "No Title".

Denmark 2006. Cobra Art. Pierre Alechinsky: "Nouvelle Peau" .

Other outstanding members of the group were Theo Wolvecamp and Eugene Brands, whose works, unfortunately, were never reproduced on stamps.  

Cuba 1967. Cobra Art. FDC from the Art Exhibition "Salon de Mayo", held in Habana 1967.

Cuba 1967.  Serge Poliakoff.

  • Cuba 1967.  Serge Poliakoff.
    Abstract Composition.  
    Although it is often so assumed, 
    Poliakoff was not a Cobra-member.

Belgium 1996.  Christian Dotremont.  "Self-Portrait" France 1985.  Pierre Alechinsky.  "Octopus on Manuscript". Cuba 1967.  Asger Jorn.  "Stalingrad". Belgium 1998.  Christian Dotremont and Karel Appel: "Black Handwriting mixed with Colours", 1972.

In its spontaneity, and with its utopian visions, CoBrA visualized and voiced a moment when naive optimism could still exist. The CoBrA artists propounded the ideal of a new society in which everyone would not only have the right to creative expression but a definite opportunity of its realization. Using vibrant and unmixed colors to create paintings of spontaneity and imagination the CoBrA artists sought their inspiration from a world of primitive people with their totems and magic signs, from Eastern Calligraphy, and prehistoric art. From the Western culture they accepted folk art and the work of children as still untainted with the rules and conventions of contemporary society. 

irst Day Cover cancelled 24th March 1988, showing Dutch stamps with works by Appel, Corneille and Constant, and the official logo of the group, COBRA, shaped as the snake of the same name.   

The Netherlands 1988. Cobra Art. Karel Appel:  "The Cobra Cat". The Netherlands 1988. Cobra Art. Corneille:  "Stag Beetle" (1948).  The Netherlands 1988. Cobra Art. Constant:  "Fallen Horse" (1950).

The international fraternization and cooperation that existed for a short time within the movement is unique, and for this particular reason CoBrA cannot be compared to any other avant-garde movement of this century. Within CoBrA, anti-aestheticism and anti-specialization were the order of the day. Painters wrote poetry, poets painted and drew, they established contacts with filmmakers, fashioned sculptures, took photographs, made works of art from rubbish, worked together on murals, canvas and paper. 

Brazil 1998. COBRA art. Issued for the 24th Biennale of Sao Paulo.

Although these artists vehemently rejected every kind of formalism or stylization, a definite CoBrA "language" or style did evolve through their collaboration, at least in their paintings, which continued to develop even after 1951.The Danish group consisted of Asger Jorn, Else Alfelt, Mogens Balle, Henry Heerup, Egill Jacobsen, Ejler Bille and Carl-Henning Pedersen. 

Only Asger Jorn, Else Alfelt, and the latter two from the Danish group have had their works reproduced on stamps. A sample of Ms. Alfelt's works is shown on the Danish-Belgian joint issue mentioned above. On the left is shown a Jorn-work on a Brazil-stamp in 1998. 

  • Brazil 1998. COBRA art. Issued for the 24th Biennale of Sao Paulo. Work by Asger Jorn. Scan by courtesy of Allan Linneman, Denmark. Scan by courtesy of Mr. Søren Rieck (Denmark). 
Denmark 1987. Ribe Cathedral. Frescoe by Carl-Henning Pedersen, Denmark. Denmark 1987. Ribe Cathedral. Glass Painting by Carl-Henning Pedersen, Denmark. Denmark 1987. Ribe Cathedral. Frescoe by Carl-Henning Pedersen, Denmark. 

In retrospect, it was this style or painterly language that gave the movement its prominent place in the history of modern art. With this language, CoBrA attuned itself to the mood of abstract expressionism that was to dominate Western culture in the fifties.   

The artists from the COBRA-group all painted in a spontaneous and fabulating way, expressing abstractions much in the same way as children.  
Iceland 1997.  Svavar Gudnason:  "The Melody of Iceland".      Denmark 1998. Ejler Bille. "A Sign". Denmark 1998. Carl-Henning Pedersen. "Imaginary Animal". 

As mentioned above, also the Dutch painter Theo Wolvecamp was a member of the CoBrA-group.  Although none of his works have been issued on stamps, he himself has been pictured on sheet No. 10 in the Dutch provincial series that was issued in 2002 to celebrate the Dutch P.A.'s 150th anniversary.

Holland 2002.  Fragment of sheet No. 10 of the Dutch provincial series.  Theo Wolvecamp is depicted on the label in the middle.

Sources and links: 

 

Copyright Notice
All stamp images on this page are in the Public Domain, as they are released by the copyright holders, i.e. the issuing postal entities for the production of postage stamps, intended for the use of the public at large as payment for postal transportation of letters and related items, both domestically and world wide. All images are shown either smaller or larger than their true size. Scanning procedures do not necessarily render all colours correctly. 


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