Above all else, the Belgian artist Christian Dotremont was a great poet, but he was also a painter and famous for his logograms.
After he founded the “Surréalisme Révolutionaire” group in 1947, Dotremont founded the CoBrA group on 8th November 1948 together with Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Asger Jorn and Joseph Noiret and wrote the manifesto: “La cause était entendue”. He also came up with the play on words which combined the names of the involved towns – Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam – into the “CoBrA” name.
Dotremont was struck down with tuberculosis in 1951 and subsequently spent many months in sanatoria in both Denmark and Belgium. The CoBrA movement ceased to exist in 1951, partly as a result of his illness and that of one of the other key players, Asger Jorn. Nevertheless, Christian Dotremont continued to be a link for the group members during the years after CoBrA. Dotremont died in the summer of 1979, aged fifty-six.
Oscillating between writing and painting
Christian Dotremont was one of the first poets to elevate writing to a visual art form, the so-called ‘peintures-mots’ (word paintings – logograms).
His logograms are graceful painting poems, created using Chinese ink. They’re deemed to be poems worthy of simply looking at. This is graphic poetry, which the artist uses to express his “cries” and which are generally more intended to be “seen” rather than “read”.
Writing and painting have merged into a new creation.