When you hear the name ‘Cobra Museum’ for the first time, you probably think of a museum filled with cobras! Well, the Cobra Museum doesn’t have anything to do with those highly venomous snakes. The Cobra Museum of Modern Art Amstelveen is a museum for modern and contemporary art in the small Dutch town of Amstelveen. The museum contains an extensive collection of art by Dutch modern artists, especially members of the Cobra movement. The Museum has been in existence since 1995 and is home to the heritage of the founding members of the Cobra movement. Cobra was the most important international avant-garde movement in European art after the Second World War. The Cobra movement only lasted for 3 years, from 1948 to 1951 and the museum houses art from this time, and some much more newer artworks from different artists all over the Netherlands and other parts of the world.
In 1948, just three years after the devastating Second World War, a group of artists from Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands went to an international conference on surrealism in Paris. Not satisfied with the theoretical approach to art, the Belgian poet Christian Dotremont decided to form a new group of renegade artists. Christian wanted a group that would promote a more radical and experimental form of art. He was joined by artists such as Asger Jorn and Karel Appel (amongst others). They signed an agreement in November 1948, marking the birth of CoBrA, an acronym for COpenhagen, BRussels and Amsterdam. It was the first post-war collaboration of European artists as the members shared a desire for a new and free form of art. Unfortunately, CoBrA’s existence wasn’t a long one. The movement flourished only from 1948 to 1951. Their creative output was enormous and produced a large number of artworks. The member artists differed in stylistic elements, but their unique works of art nevertheless left a colourful impression in a world that was trying to rebuild after a ruinous war. CoBrA experimented with different techniques and materials and played a pivotal role in steering European art in a new direction after the war.
The CoBrA artworks currently at the Cobra museum are known to have that wow effect on visitors. The members of CoBrA consciously aimed for spontaneous expression and to achieve a kind of directness in their art, they turned to the creative works of children and mentally disabled people. There is a children’s section where the beautiful artworks of highly creative children are on display for all to see and enjoy. The infant creativity is astonishing. There is also non-Western art forms, such as folk art, tribal art and different forms of Scandinavian primitive art.
The legacy of the Cobra movement comes to life in the Cobra Museum. The collection of art in this museum consists of a large number of works in various shapes, sizes and media. The collection includes masterpieces by Cobra artists such as Karel Appel, Corneille, Asger Jorn and Lucebert. These are shown in changing presentations alongside alternating exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. You can admire paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs, magazines, films and even letters from CoBrA members. The CoBrA movement provided a breakthrough in modern art, which has a major influence on current art and theories surrounding art in Europe. Learn all about this special movement in the CoBrA museum in Amstelveen and don’t forget to order your tickets here.