Walking a tightrope between writing and painting

Christian Dotremont

We are writing 1962 when Belgian artist Christian Dotremont invents the logogram. Swirling visual poetry in which word, calligraphy and graphic art unite to form their own, entirely new art form. It reflects the subtle nuances in the personality of the founder himself. Dotremont was a poet, graphic artist, painter and writer, not least co-founder of the CoBrA movement founded in 1948. The word paintings would eventually become his trademark.

Christian Dotremont - Logrogrammes (1976)

"To Birch or not to be"

With his logograms, he aimed to make poetry visible. Vertically, hung on the wall, and not horizontally hidden in books or drawers. Not only realised in ink or oil crayon on paper, but equally written and photographed in snow, or painted on suitcases. They are expressive compositions linking writing and art, inspired by Chinese, Japanese and Arabic writings. Dotremont integrated this Eastern spirit not only in his daily life but, above all, in his artistry.

Portrait of the artist

The 14 logograms, which together form one work, were specially made to mark the 70th birthday of Børge Birch, the leading art dealer from Denmark who worked closely with the various members of the CoBrA group. It is Asger Jorn who first introduces Dotremont to Birch and a lifelong friendship between the two men will ensue. Their contact continues long after the CoBrA group disbanded in 1951.


The amiability of their understanding can be seen in the titles of the individual works, each referring to the gallery owner in a humorous way. "To Birch or Not to Be" and "Birchalligrafi" are some fine examples.

Lot 409. See detail