new on display

Karel Appel
Now on view

© Karel Appel Foundation, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
© Karel Appel Foundation, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Photo: Kristine Noergaard Andersen
Photo: Kristine Noergaard Andersen

The “Appel Wall,” 1956, is now on view in gallery 0.1.

In 1956, five years after Karel Appel had painted the walls of the museum’s “refreshment room,” he received a new commission from director Sandberg: to paint a wall in the former restaurant. Appel’s response took the form of a colorful painting of three figures dancing across the wall: a crested bird, a person and a flower. The composition was designed to complement the wall and the surrounding space, which included two doors, a walkway and seats for visitors to the then new restaurant. Appel’s painting did not fit onto this wall in its entirety, so he extended his work around the corner on the right. Some elements of the wall have changed as a result of renovations, but this cheerful and monumental mural has lost none of its impact. The blue door remains part of the whole. One unusual element is the colored-glass oval window made using the new appliqué technique, which allowed daylight to shine directly through it. Appel not only sought new forms of expression, but also employed and combined new techniques.

Since its completion in 1956, this wall painting by Karel Appel has adorned the museum’s former restaurant space—now converted to a gallery. Originally, the image of the sun—a window at the center of the painting, on what was formerly an exterior wall—was illuminated by the sunlight passing through it. The window depicted in the painting resembles a flower floating through the air, with a dancing child and a bird with a crest of feathers. During the renovation of the building, which started in 2004, The “Appel Wall” was covered by rice paper to protect it; and when it was removed, the paper was yellow, stained with nicotine that had accumulated from years of people smoking in the restaurant. Extensive cleaning of the surface has restored the painting to its former splendor for visitors to enjoy again.