I don’t like snakes and I am horrible with art (creating or interpreting), so when I had the opportunity to visit the CoBrA museum, I wasn’t sure if I should be terrified or just nervous.
As it turns out, the CoBrA museum has nothing to do with snakes – well not live ones anyway. Located in the city of Amstelveen, the museum focuses on the European avant-garde movement, named CoBrA, which was active from 1948 – 1951. The word CoBrA is actually made up of the initials of the member’s home cities – Co for Copenhagen, Br for Brussels and A for Amsterdam – and a curled snake became their symbol. As we moved through the gallery looking at different paintings made by famous artists including Karel Appel, Constant and Asger Jorn the inevitable question that makes my heart beat faster and my palms begin to sweat was asked. To CoBrA, anyone can make art and anyone can interpret it. Gone are the ideas that you need formal training, a worked out plan and years of effort to make a painting. You just show up, do the job based on your thoughts at the moment and then you move on. And it is equally true when it comes to looking at the art. What to you is a dog is to me a cat and is to both of us a tree tomorrow. No hard feelings, no artists getting upset because you missed the point and no need for sweating hands when someone asks you “what do you see?” I left the CoBrA museum feeling quite inspired, maybe even tempted to make a little art myself. At the very least I had a new foundation for approaching art and a greater respect for the group that was the cause of my change in perspective.