Alechinsky, Appel, Baj, Jorn, Rein, d’Haese, Roel, Ting, Wyckaert et Dotremont avec Cobra. Bruxelles: Galerie Taptoe, 1956. 4 p.; ill.; 21 x 18.5 cm.; black ink on white stock.
Leaflet announcing the famed collective exhibition of COBRA artists held at Galerie Taptoe between July 31 and September 26, 1956. The design is by polish typographer and artist Corneille Hannoset.
For more about Galerie Taptoe, see Yale’s Beinecke Library page: https://www.postwarcultureatbeinecke.org/taptoegallery
“The short-lived but influential Taptoe Gallery was active in Brussels in the 1950s. A “center for the arts,” Taptoe opened its doors in 1955 under the direction of Gentil and Clara Haesaert. In addition to an exhibit space, Taptoe had meeting rooms, a bar/cafe, and beds, a setting ripe for the sort of heady pow-wows one could expect from wandering avant-garde artists. They featured poetry readings, jazz concerts (Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins), and conferences (one titled “Architecture is a Crime that Pays”), and anthropology lectures. As it was, Taptoe was one-of-a-kind in sleepy Brussels (a so-called cultural “desert”) despite its proximity to such progressive centers of artistic activity as Paris and Amsterdam. As Corneille Hanozet remembers, “It is hard to believe that in Brussels in the 50s it was extremely rare to find a simple place to get to know one another and express ourselves.”
Taptoe took its name from Piet de Groof’s (a.k.a. Walter Korun) short-lived and irreverent poetry revue/comic book from just a few years prior. He had decided on the name because of its bilingual resonance in French and Dutch, although curiously, “taptoe” is not a French word (Further confirmation that one must take de Groof’s retellings in Le général situationniste with a grain of salt.) In Dutch it means “tattoo,” as in a military curfew: the drumbeat or bugle sounding for soldiers to repair to their garrison for bed. More generally, it can mean the last call, the final gong, that’s enough. De Groof was a celebrated Belgian aviator before turning to poetry, which explains his familiarity with the term. In 1955 as his Taptoe periodical began to lose steam he signed over the moniker to Gentil and Clara Wyckaert, then editors of De Kunst-Meridiaan, for their new gallery. Thereafter he joined the ranks as contributing member.
As a site for both national and international artistic dialogue Taptoe began to combat the sentiment that the Belgians were merely derivative of the Paris scene. The gallery’s first two group exhibitions were runaway hits, surpassing all expectations. With paintings by Pierre Alechinsky, Hugo Claus, Serge Vandercam, Corneille, and sculpture by Reinhoud d’Haese, one critic, Corneille Hanozet, avowed, “We must applaud Taptoe’s efforts of the last few months to pull from the shadows some of the most audacious works of art of today. These exhibits prove that art continues on its adventure despite initial hesitations.” Taptoe went on to feature Asger Jorn, Walasse Ting, and Paul Snoek in solo exhibitions. In February 1957, a now historic exhibit on Psychogeography played a role in catalyzing contact between Jorn and other future founding members of the Situationist International.”