Grande terre âpre
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
The Dutch artist Corneille painted this canvas like a drawing. He used black lines with smudges of colour using bright red, green, blue and yellow paint next to them. There are virtually no closed lines or fields of colour. In some cases the fields form tight structures, in other places the fields are more open and these open parts are mainly painted in whitish-grey hues.
In 1948 Corneille founded the Cobra movement together with a number of other artists but it lasted for only three years, after which the members went their own way, though they continued to incorporate the ideas of Cobra in their later work, opposing the established pre-war art which they considered to lack content and they endeavoured to achieve a completely new way of painting in which a direct and spontaneous approach was very important. The subject they chose was often an imaginary world populated by animals and imaginary creatures. However, they also expressed the consequences of war, for example, in the form of tortured people or scorched earth.
Before 1950, Corneille mainly painted imaginary creatures, birds and fishes. Then he moved to Paris where his work became more abstract. A bird’s eye view of the city and the earth became recurring themes. During this period Corneille often gave his paintings negative titles such as 'Grand terre âpre' (Large Bitter Earth), shown here. Later on his subject became the fertile and productive earth. His work once again became more figurative, often using the shape of the female body and of birds.
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