A painter and lithographer, Guillaume Corneille, was born in Liège by Dutch parents in 1922. Corneille irregularly took drawing classes at the academy of fine Arts in Amsterdam during the early 1940’s but was self-taught in painting. His first personal exposition was held in Groningen at the age of 24.
Soon after World War II, Corneille and two other Dutchmen, Appel and Constant, founded the “Experimental group” of the Danish artist Jorn. Together with the Belgians Dotremont and Alechinsky, these two groups served as foundation of the “Cobra Group” which was a concentration of Copenhagen, Bruxells and Amsterdam (Co-Br-A). The critique and the existence of the Cobra group during the following years of its organisation, was very important for Corneille.
In 1950, Corneille participated in the “Dazzling Hands” group in Paris and the May Salon for his first time. from then on, he was regularly represented. in 1950he made a trip to Hoggar which importantly influenced the later development of his work. The numerous canvases recall the mineral world, in which he found sudden awareness of the desert, such as in “paysage aux fossils”, and the triptych of”Rocher blanc”, “Terre brulée”, “La forêt de pierres” etc. Later on Corneille’s participation in collective manifestations multiply and with a few significant exceptions, he becomes tired of them adding up. He visits the U.S.A. in 1958 and is very impressed by New York which inspired a collection of drawings.
The transition between landscape scenery and cities is notable in Corneille’s paintings. The artist found his references better in the popular arts rather than in the cultural heritage of the past. Corneille, like often with the artists deriving from the Cobra group, does not stop the distinction between representation and abstraction.