October 23, 2013 - NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale - Spirit Of Cobra at NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale
October 23, 2013

Spirit Of Cobra at NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale

Carl-Henning Pedersen, Gule Skibe (Yellow Ships), 1948. Oil on canvas, 91.1 x 42 x 23 cm. Collection of Cobra Museum of Modern Art, The Netherlands.

Spirit Of Cobra
November 8, 2013–May 18, 2014

NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale
One East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301


NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale presents Spirit of Cobra, a major exhibition exploring the roots and inspiration of the European avant-garde Cobra movement. Spirit of Cobra highlights the unique meeting of young artists who came together from several European countries in the aftermath of World War II to create a living art based on spontaneity, experimentation, socialist politics, and exuberant optimism. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands, and is the first of three major exhibitions to focus specifically on this influential movement that helped inspire the development of European post-war, avant-garde art. This trio of exhibitions represents the Museum of Art’s ongoing commitment to Cobra scholarship, and also highlights new Director and Chief Curator Bonnie Clearwater’s commitment to integrate education into exhibition programming, as well as thorough scholarship of underexplored art historical subjects and movements. 

“The Cobra movement’s legacy continues to influence artists today, such as Albert Oehlen and Rita Ackermann,” notes Clearwater. “Yet, Cobra art is under-recognized in the United States and is often misunderstood. This exhibition will shed new light on its significance.” As the largest and most comprehensive collection of Cobra art in the United States, NSU Museum of Art is strategically collaborating with the Cobra Museum of Art to ensure that the legacy of this important movement in art history is kept alive. 

Spirit of Cobra features paintings, drawings, watercolors, sculpture, and mixed media works drawn from the permanent collections of the two museums along with others lent by leading public and private collections. Exhibition highlights include works by Karel Appel, Pierre Alechinsky, Constant, Corneille, Christian Dotremont, Egill Jacobsen, Asger Jorn, and Carl-Henning Pedersen, many of which have never been publicly displayed. 

Cobra originated in Paris and its followers actively worked together in a group experiment that formally lasted between 1948 through 1951. The Cobra artists, whose collective name is an acronym of Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, the home cities of its founders, emerged on the scene with expressionistic works rich in color and spontaneous play of line and material. They sought creativity outside the mainstream art world and were greatly 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. Their aim was an art for and by everyone, regardless of class, race, or education level. 

Spirit of Cobra is co-organized by NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and the Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amstelveen, Netherlands, and is curated by Katja Weitering and Brenda Zwart.

The exhibition is supported through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge with additional funding provided by Linda J. Marks and Stephen R. Marks, Daniel and Jan Lewis, and David and Francie Horvitz Family Foundation.

Founded in 1958, NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale museum is a premier destination for exhibitions and programs encompassing all facets of civilization’s history. Housed in a distinguished 83,000-square-foot modernist building by Edward Larrabee Barnes, its 6,000-work permanent collection is recognized for extensive holdings of works by the pioneering American painter William Glackens, works by Cobra artists, and highly prized collection works by Latin American artists. The museum also maintains a special focus on photography. It offers comprehensive education programming through the NSU AutoNation Academy for Art + Design. In 2008, the museum became part of Nova Southeastern University, the ninth-largest not-for-profit independent institution in the U.S. In September 2013, Bonnie Clearwater became the museum’s Director and Chief Curator. 

Media contacts:
Anna Rosa Thomae, FITZ & CO
T +1 212 627 1455 x 256 / annarosa [​at​] fitzandco.com

Jessica McCormack, FITZ & CO
T +1 310 395 2900 / jessica.mccormack [​at​] fitzandco.com


Spirit Of Cobra at NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale
NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale
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