Christiaan Karel Appel was born in 1921 in Amsterdam. He studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in Amsterdam from 1940 to 1943. Appel held his first solo exhibition in 1946 at Het Heerenhuis in Groningen, the Netherlands. By this time his work was influenced by Picasso and Matisse's work.
He became a member of the Nederlandse Experimentele Groep and established the CoBrA movement in 1948 along with Constant, Corneille, and others.
In 1950 the artist moved to Paris where he met Michel Tapie, who organized many shows of his work. He was commissioned to paint a mural for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, in 1951. By that time, he had earned an important place in the art world. It was in 1953 when Appel held a solo show at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.
Karel Appel was recognised with the UNESCO Prize at the 27th International Biennale in Venice in 1954, and with the first prize at the Guggenheim International Exhibition in New York in 1960. After many solo shows in Europe, a major Appel show opened at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht in 1970, and a retrospective of his work toured Canada and the United States in 1972.
This artist's career is not only based on painting but also in his production of graphic works and illustrations, sculptures, ceramic works and large decorations of buildings and rooms. Karel Appel's style is very recognizable by his use of many colours and a constant recall to childhood, all surrounded by sharp black outlines.