This book examines the art of Cobra, a network of poets and artists from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam (1948–51). Although the name stood for the organizers’ home cities, the Cobra artists hailed from countries in Europe, Africa, and the United States.
This book investigates how a group of struggling young artists attempted to reinvent the international avant-garde after the devastation of World War II, to create artistic experiments capable of facing the challenges of postwar society. It explores how Cobra’s experimental, often collective art works and publications relate to broader debates in postwar Europe about the use of images to commemorate violent events, the possibility of free expression in an art world constrained by Cold War politics, the breakdown of primitivism in an era of colonial independence, and the importance of spontaneity in a society increasingly dominated by the mass media.
This book will be of interest to scholars in art history, twentieth century modern art, avant-garde arts, and European history.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Reanimating Art; 1. Human Animals; 2. Surrealism Into Cobra; 3. War, Memory, and Renewal; 4. Expression for All; 5. Coda: New Networks
Karen Kurczynski is Associate Professor, History of Art and Architecture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.