Tate Kids


Karel Appel, Questioning Children, 1949

This artwork is called a relief. It is similar to how a sculpture might be made but hangs on a wall, and it is by the Dutch artist Karel Appel. He made this relief by re-using pieces of wood that he had found and nailing them to an old window shutter. The figures in the relief have been roughly painted using strong, bright colours. Karel has made each figure in the relief different so that each one has their own personality. Can you describe some of the characters from the relief in a story? Who are they? Do they look happy or sad? Can you describe where they are – in a noisy or quiet place? Imagine what they might be saying to one another if they could talk.

31 stories about “Karel Appel, Questioning Children, 1949”

  1. Eric, age 4, from USA

    It reminds me of a school. They are worried. The little one is saying something. The little one is saying, “Thank you. ” It reminds me of people in a yoga class. It reminds me of people playing together. They have square and rounds heads and little heads. It reminds me of a red dog with black eyes.

  2. Ariana Doreste, age 7, from Spain

    Once upon a time there was a beautiful petrol station. That petrol station was very famous. The world was lived by robots. The robots go to petrol station to fill up themselves. They use to live in a quite city. There was a little pet that used to bark very early in the morning so robots could not sleep enough that’s why some of them were not very happy. Once the little pet discover the others robots didn’t like his barks he didn’t bark anymore so robots lived very happy near their beautiful petrol station.

  3. Luis Doreste, age 6, from Spain

    Once upon a time there was a poor family. They had a pet. Always they have to take water from the river to do every thing.

    They had a little house in a tree were the babies and children played. The older people used to do every thing for children and all of hem lived happy.

  4. Joe Selley, age 4, from Scotland

    A cat ate a bumblebee and it was sick

  5. Alex Tolson, age 13, from England

    a long time ago in a place not far from here there was an evil wizard who hated children and not only was he a wizard he was an artist. One day a child by then name of Alex Tolson did something which annoyed him so bad he drew Alex and all his friends. and to this day everyone who new him was added to the painting.

  6. Jessica, age 9, from England

    The picture has pictures of children smiling, happy, and excited. There is also something that looks like a dog. The painting is called relief. It should have been painted after the war, children all over the globe would be celebrating.

  7. Eddy Holtom, age 7, from England

    100 year’s ago there was a crazy scientist. And he invented something called paint. Now we all know about paint but 100 year’s ago it was a new invention and he was famous from then onwards so now you know! how paint was made.

  8. Lily, age 10, from England

    The Children of Question where happy, lively and young. There was a 3 year old, a 5 year old, an 8 year old and a 16 year old who looked after all of them. They where sad though because although they felt happy they looked extremely sad, for they were all black and white.

    One day the happy, or not so, family went out for a long walk along the briny beach where they found a lake of colour they were so ecstatic, that…..they jumped into the lake of colour, and from that day on they’re skin was coloured there clothes were coloured even there nails were coloured. So know they are happy on the outside as well as the inside.

  9. Kathryn, age 14, from England

    Sammie the robot was the child of Geth and the Naiom the robot, Sammie loved to paint pictures of anything that he saw or liked. One day Sammie and his family where out on a wonderful picnic, with nuts and bolts sandwiches and hot thick runny oil to drink, Sammie was under a tree with his dog Bolts who was a blue funny dog, Sammie and Bolts were best of friends, while Bolts laid sleepily under the shade of the sun Sammie took out his sketch book and began to draw what he saw that day.

    An hours had past and Sammie had just finished the picture when his family had to go and get there photo taken for a family picture to hand on there wall at home, Sammie gathered up his ballooning and woke up Bolts and then waddled down to the photo shop. When the Face family had reached the shop the owner came out all in a hurry and bumped into them! “Oh I’m sorry its just that someone has stolen my £120 pound camera and i need it to take photos or my shop will close down”.

    Sammie and saw Bolts sniffing the ground to say that he had smelt something and then started to run off in the direction of the park, Sammie chased him all the way back to the tree where they had been sitting earlier, Bolts stared to bark up the tree. When Sammie looked up there was the camera and the naughty thief who had stole it! The Face family came running down to the park with the police robots following then, “There’s you’re camera up the tree with Robie the Rotten Robot with it” shouted Sammie!

    Once Robbie had been taken to prison the shopkeeper came and spoke to Sammie he said” Son, since you helped me find my camera l would like to jive you this” and he handed Sammie a £100 pounds set of water pains and also a canvas to draw on! Once Sammie got home he set to work drawing and painting and colouring! Two days past and Sammie had finished! He had drawn and painted a picture of his whole family even his dog Bolts who was sitting down next to him in the bottom corner! So next to the family photo on there front wall was Sammie’s painting of his family. The day which he caught a robber and got a painting!

  10. Karina, age 10, from USA

    Children are children and adults are adults. Don’t let adults question children, we have our own faults. If wrong were to right and right were to wrong then the world would get mixed up and all fall down. How would you feel if children questions adults? How they stress from bills and everyday need to take green pills. I wouldn’t want to be questioning them……we all go through bumpy hills in the ground. So if I found a grown up questioning kids, all I have to say is good luck

  11. Adrian, age 11, from USA

    This is the makdajkajkieamkoekoalilloodfmiajirjjilvklfkugklsml tribe, this is their remains.

  12. Ina, age 37, from Slovenija

    these people are a family. the biggest figure in red dress is mom. a big blue head in left corner is dead. they have a lots of children and some pets. colours are worm ,happy ,intensive colours of childhood. but persons don’t look happy. its looks like a family portrait. and they are looking to us.

  13. Harri Smith, age 12, from England

    One day, there was lots of children who posed for an artist. This artist was a weird man who stole children and made them robots. But these children had heard off this artist and they knew what he did, so they ran as quick as they to the top off the mountain called Blondie. The artist couldn’t be bothered to go to the top so he just ran back to his house and fell asleep.

  14. Elvira, age 10, from USA

    so of the characters seem sad and scared. most of the characters have big eyes and seem that they do not want to let go of their family.

  15. Mammi, age 4, from UK

    there were 7 clock people, a house and a dog with a square clock. they are trying to get out of this house.

    because they were very scared…….

  16. Jay, age 14, from unknown

    Once there was a rabbit and a tortoise. They kept fighting about who was faster. Then they decided to have a race. The rabbit soared ahead while the tortoise was going slowly. The tortoise passed a sleeping rabbit and eventually got to the finish line and won the race.

  17. Alice, age 12, from England

    Many children ask questions, its just how they are. But sometimes there are a few that just can’t stop asking them. Oliver and William were playing outside their house when a car came and parked right in front of the house. This was odd as it was a stately looking and was jet black and this was quite a poor area of Ireland so it look very out-of-place. Then a man in a grey pin-striped suit stepped gracefully out of the car taking with him a huge bag of what looked like.. well bits of metal in it. Now, Oliver and William just could not resist asking a question about the huge bulky bag. So William ,being the most nosey, walked up to the stranger and said,

    ” hey mister! What’s all this about? Its not everyday a man in a posh black car parks in front of our house. So tell me, what is this?”

    ” Well my dear boy, this my friend is a bag of metal beings! And i would like you to look after them for me.

    My name is Mr Nobody. Is that clear?”

    William and Oliver just stared at him in bewilderment.

    But Oliver just said ” OK then.” Not considering what might be in store for them.

  18. Amelia, age 10, from K.M. USA

    Once there lived a child who had a party , the mom went crazy she never said maybe. Everything could talk even the door. Soon this disaster came to an end, No one was left not even a hen.

  19. Jose, age 10, from K.M. USA

    In the picture there is a sun with a face. And a boy with his brother and dog. And they landed in a chaos world. With robots and big bugs also a tiger that is choking the older brother.

  20. LaDamien, age 10, from America

    There in the streets are robots causing mayhem. Running, exploding, and beeping. Until a human came to Robot lnn. He tried to rewire the robo dog to stop lifting his leg, but he sharpened his teeth and bit him. Now humans never came to Robot lnn.

  21. Justin Willis, age 10, from Illinois

    Once there was a evil man they called Blockhead. He stole little children that he used as slaves. The children always tried to take over him but it never worked. So they would get punished. Until one really smart kid named Ash brought a weapon when Blockhead took him to. Then Ash shot block head with a paralyze dart. then they tied him up. And got away. .

  22. Ann, age 46, from England

    Mum and the three of us left the house one day to find there was nothing to come home to, no civilisation what so ever. The whole of our existence had changed, the neighbourhood had completely disappeared. Scrap the dog was barking ferociously trying to warn us. How terrible. not only had we lost everything but our personal appearance had altered also. Instead of our normal human looking selves. We were left with no mirrors. but a feeling of great loss and despair came over me when I discovered i had short stubby arms, I looked down at myself to discover I had very bright coloured clothes. The shape of my head had altered too, not only where my eyes completely round I had little or no mouth at all to speak of. my cloths where simple. who or what had happened to that poor child in the corner? The dog now had ear phones on to save his ears. continue next week ……

  23. Vengogue, age 46, from Saint-la-Chausur

    sa c est ma famille d apres je sais pas qui …..

    (un trisomique je pense) a non c est picasso

  24. Hannah Collins, age 9, from England

    On the far sides of the mountains, there lived a robot named, Bo-bo. One day, he met up. ” Can we be friends, ” asked he. All the boys looked down at me. Bo-bo cried with laughter as his dog, rover came over. The boys went he-he-he-ha. the dog went woof woof. Everybody was ready to set of the buzz buzz and the beep beep now. They were so exited to buzz to £1,000,000. Cool, hu?

  25. Chris H, age 9, from KM USA

    Once there was a group of kids named David, Chris, Aaron, Josh. They were playing hide & seek tag. They all had $40.00 to by a drink & a snack. After this they played a game of baseball then they played a game of scooer.

  26. Diana A., age 11, from Illinois

    It is such a nice day to play out side so 6 kids went to play out side there names were Billy ,Adam ,Molly, Kevin, Jasmine, and Nancy. They were all so friendly to each other .They played every game they could think of but Billy said lets stick on the wall so they got glue and stuck.

  27. Taylor H., age 10, from USA

    the night at the art room

    there was a guy who love the art work and so he voted for it and it won and this girl won and she slept over and the art work came alive she with so scary she began to cry and she ran as fast as she can to get out of the art room and she did


  28. Josh R, age 8, from KM USA

    Monuments are coming to life with masks on to hide their real identity! But the towns people find a way to stop them!

  29. C.J. (Joseph J), age 10, from K.M USA

    Once upon a time…

    some kids were playing with a giant ball. Then, the aliens came! They ran for their life, but they got trapped inside their bubble ray! Then, I came with a mutant spider, and a flame thrower! Then my mutant shot out venom and popped The bubbles and the aliens went away.

  30. Toni Laws, age 11, from London

    there once was a robot family they went out to see a gipsy to see their future then when they came home they all turned flat but the gipsy lady never told them that they were going to turn flat and be multi coloured and the were stuck to a painting.

  31. Meredith, age 10, from England

    These are people from Ompa loompa land. They enjoy feasting on slugs and worms for their dinner. One of their hobbies is dissecting frogs and they enjoy alphabetti spaghetti!