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Luik 1922, Parijs 2010

Corneille was born as Guillaume Cornelis van Beverloo on 3 July 1922 in Liège. He was active as a painter and poet. In 1937 he took advertising drawing lessons in Haarlem and from 1940-1943 attended the drawing course at the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam, where he met Karel Appel (1921-2006). The Academy was not interested in him because he did not see any merit in signing “white draperies” (the classic plaster figures). He thought he could not learn anything: “We were experimental painters, the experiment was true, not the nicely finished beautifully cared-for painting. No, it really was about the creative event “.

Corneille was self-taught as a painter. After the war, he traveled with Appel to Limburg, where they bought wallets with art reproductions by Picasso, Matisse and the painters of the École de Paris. The impact on their work became immediately apparent. But that influence did not last long. Corneille developed, before Cobra, in 1947, his mythical figuration inspired by children’s drawings with exuberantly cheerful and brightly colored forms during a stay in Budapest. There he discovered the work of Paul Klee (1879-1940), Joan Miró (1893-1983) and the writings of the surrealist poets and met the painter Jacques Doucet (1924-1994). Under the influence of these impressions, Corneille began to work from his imagination and to paint myths. The visit to Budapest has permanently influenced Corneille’s visual insight. Also of fundamental importance for his later development was his visit with Appel to Paris and the confrontation with the work of the Danish painters Asger Jorn (1914-1973) and Carl-Henning Pedersen (1913-2007). Especially the birds in the work of the myth-creating Danes made a big impression on him. A year later, the Danish fable world broke through in Corneille’s paintings. Birds, fish and fairytale creatures spontaneously flew around in an imaginary space. For Corneille it was mainly the time of the experiment with a wide variety of subjects, shapes and colors and with different drawing and painting methods.


From 1947 he produced graphics, collages and assemblages and his first collective works were created in Denmark. Corneille met Constant (1920-2005) in 1948 at the Klee exhibition in Amsterdam. After his visit to the exhibition, he immediately decided to go “in the footsteps of Klee” to Tunisia where works arose with the typical sand brown and summer red colors, in a spontaneous manuscript. In July 1948 Corneille founded the Experimental Group in Holland with Appel and Constant, and later also other Dutch painters and some poets joined. In November of the same year, the three Dutch people in Paris together with Danish and Belgian artists were co-founders of Cobra. Corneille collaborated on the fourth issue of the Cobra magazine, which appeared in 1949 at the first Cobra exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Corneille, Grand Oiseau, 1951

In 1950 he settled permanently in Paris. Shortly thereafter, Corneille undertook a trip to the Sahara that had an immediate impact in a series of abstract paintings. In it he painted African scorched earth crusts and cities from a bird’s-eye perspective, in compact forms and with strong color contrasts. In Algeria he was struck by the primary and sensual nature of primitive art and the geometric decorations of nomadic peoples. At the end of the sixties the mythical element of the early period revived. The luxuriant earth remained an ever recurring motif, but now in the form of a female body with or beside it, the bird as the perfect image of the movement or rather, the joy of the movement. The figuration had become a myth again. Since 1948 Corneille has made many trips to Denmark, Sweden, Algeria, North and Central Africa, the Netherlands Antilles, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and the USA. In Italy he made ceramics in Albisola and in Spain he experimented with light and color. He conquered the world with his passionate fantasy of sun temples, excessive vegetation and inspiration from world cultures. His work, with which he gained international fame, has been included in many collections and has been exhibited all over the world.

Corneille in Spanje, 1961

Colorful paintings but also African art can be seen in the Stedelijk

Ex-girlfriend of Corneille tells

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