‘The best painting is one that reason cannot allow.’
Corneille (pseudonym of Guillaume Cornelis Beverloo), was born in 1922 in Belgium to Dutch parents, and was a painter, printer, sculptor, and ceramicist.
After studying drawing at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Amsterdam, he focused on painting, and in 1948 became cofounder of the CoBrA group (acronym of Copenhagen-Brussels-Amsterdam). The fellow cofounders were Karel Appel, Christian Dotremont, Constant Nieuwenhuis and Asger Jorn. The group was formed in Paris as a reaction to the Western Positivist Culture that they believed paved the way to World War II. It sought to imbibe local and foreign ‘primitive’ arts, both their forms and spirit, to reconnect with a secret world linked to myths and the unconscious. CoBrA is thus an heir of Surrealism. Many poets, painters, and writers joined the group, including Jacques Doucet and Pierre Alechinsky.
Creator of abstract landscapes after the dislocation of CoBrA in 1951, Corneille returned to figurative art in the beginning of the 1960s. He was strongly influenced by the traditional art and lush nature of Africa, Mexico, and South America, which he discovered through his travels since 1949. These travels inspired his landscape paintings, which continue to resonate with the CoBrA style in their compositional simplification and in their vivid, warm colours.
His style can further be described as lyrical. His preferred themes were women (Mother Nature, beauty, and sensuality) and birds (the male element, vital energy, liberty), but also the sun and serpent (symbols also reflecting feminine and masculine qualities), and cats (mystery). Each of these themes reflects this humanist artist’s profound love of life.
In addition to painting, Corneille practised print-making from 1953. In 1999 he discovered aquagravure, a transitional technique between sculpture and lithography. He also devoted himself to ceramics from 1954, and then in 1992, to wood polychrome sculpture.
Corneille died in 2010 in Auvers-sur-Oise and was put to rest near his compatriot Vincent van Gogh.
He is well represented in public collections in Paris and Amsterdam, notably: The CoBrA Museum, Amstelveen; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris.
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Art works from Corneille
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