COBRA (or CoBrA) was an avant-garde art movement active for a few brief years from 1948 to 1951. The name was derived from the members’ home cities Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. The group was formed by Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Christian Dotremont, Asger Jorn, and Joseph Noiret in 1948 in Paris, the members having a unifying doctrine of freedom of colour, line and form as well as an interest in the politics of marxism and communism.
“The artists sought creativity beyond the mainstream art world, and were inspired by folk and tribal art, forms of primitive art, and Scandinavian mythology. They considered geometric abstraction too inhuman and formal, surrealism too academic, and socialist realism too dogmatic. They instead sought to create art for and by everyone regardless of class, race, or education level.”
The Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale has the largest collection of COBRA art in the United States, and is currently holding the first exhibition of three planned in collaboration with the COBRA Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands. “Spirit of Cobra” features paintings, drawings, watercolors, sculptures, and other works drawn from the permanent collections of the two museums, supplemented with loans from public and private collections.
The COBRA art movement was one of youth, spontaneity, experimentation and social politics. It was child-like in its optimism (which is perhaps why it only lasted three years) and sits somewhere between new art movements in Europe which were squashed and destroyed by the Nazis during the Second World War and the free art of the 1960′s.