Like Lost Boys to Breton's Captain Hook, CoBrA members signed a manifesto, "Le cause était entendue," and then clambered up to their tree house, taking along various sources of inspiration: Viking dragon patterns, African and Oceanic tribal masks, Scandinavian petroglyphs, mythology, primitive art, drawings by the mentally ill, and Freud. As the surrealist Paris School revolved primarily around structured painting, CoBrA became a never-never land for displaced artists and for other media (poetry, ceramics, and sculpture) as well as painting. It fostered organic, childlike impulsiveness against the antidemocratic forces and technological advancements that emerged during the war.
CoBrA artists published magazines, organized their own exhibitions, and held meetings, and they did so with almost no support from the more-established European art communities. This renegade burst of expression lasted only three years before the artists, led by Christian Dotremont, Asger Jorn, and Karel Appel, separated and began solo careers.
When asked to describe the CoBrA exhibitions, Fran Mulcahy, curator of education at the Museum of Art, says they are "abstract, colorful, and passionate." Influenced by Edvard Munch and Joan Miró, the body of work that CoBrA left behind is characterized by bold rhythms, lines, and color -- intuitive, wild, and fantastic images that are both politically expressive and playful. Despite its brief tenure, the artistic and cultural energy of the CoBrA school has sustained its memory for the past half-century. Now, many consider CoBrA to be the last art collective of its kind.