Vragende Kinderen (Questioning Children) is a painted relief, made from scrap wood. Karel Appel nailed wooden blocks onto a surface of planks and then painted faces on them with dots and lines. This work is part of a series that Appel created after a train journey through Germany, shortly after the end of the Second World War, when he saw children at stations begging for money and food. In 1948–1949, he depicted their fate in a series of works with the title Vragende Kinderen. This relief focuses on both the children’s urge to survive and the artist’s urge to create. In his quest to find an elementary form of expression, Karel Appel used intense colours, simple, childlike forms and rugged materials that evoke intuitive associations within the viewer. The power of these associations became apparent when Appel created a mural of Vragende Kinderen for the canteen of what was then the town hall of Amsterdam. The civil servants revolted and the big, pleading eyes of the children were hidden away behind a wall and not unveiled again until 1959.
© Karel Appel Foundation, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Translated title

Questioning Children



Production date



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105 x 67 x 17.5cm.


painted wood

Object number

BA 481