Corneille studied art at the Academy of Art in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. He was one of the founders of the REFLEX movement in 1948 and in 1949 he was also one of the founders of the COBRA group in Denmark, which has had great influence on Scandinavian art. He was active within the group from the beginning, not only painting but also publishing poetry in the Cobra magazine. The poetic Corneille was strongly influenced by Mir√≥ and Klee. After the group dissolved in 1951 he moved to Paris and began collecting African art. These primitive artifacts became evident in his works, which began to take on a more imaginative style, like landscapes seen from a bird's eye view, exotic birds and stylised forms. Today Corneille lives and works in Paris, he makes visits to Israel where he works with the Jaffa Atalier. On 24 in September 2003 there was an opening of his exhibition of prints, in the Ramat-Gan Museum of Art, Israel.
He was a cofounder of the Experimentele Groep Holland and a member of CoBrA.