Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pierre Cordier sends his New Year's greetings

Cordier, Chemigram 1/9/11 II "Squares in Love"

Douglas Collins, inventor of this nonfigurative blog, has offered me the opportunity to wish his readers a Happy New Year.  Happily I accept: this blog is heaven-sent for all of us who practice or appreciate alternative or extraphotographic experimentation.  The texts are clear, carefully documented, the illustrations well chosen.  To my knowledge, in the world of such things, it stands alone.

For my participation in this first post of 2012, I've gone into my recent chemigrams and picked out three pairs of squares, each measuring just a centimeter on a side.  They have had intimate relations, a rare event among squares.  Presenting geometric forms with humor is the specialty of a French artist I much admire, François Morellet.

These "Squares in Love" are not as sharp and clean as the ones I used to make.  Let me explain.  On my website some of you may have seen the Chemigram 12/1/82 "Zigzagram".  It's a completely controlled work, except for three tiny imperfections cause by spots of dust in the 'magical varnish' I employ as a resist.  Some people tease me by saying, "But those are my favorite shapes!"

Cordier, Chemigram 12/1/82 "Zigzagram", detail

The other chemigram I'd take to a desert island (but what good would they do me there?) is the Photo-Chemigram 4/4/79 "Hexagram".  The fine lines you see in it are disturbed by numerous bubbles, dust and defects in the varnish, like a stream crashing among rocks.  Without these imperfections this image could have been made on a computer, which would have had no interest for me.  So I welcome the random effects of matter and materials, but one has to know whether to accept or reject them.

Cordier, Photo-Chemigram 4/4/79 "Hexagram", detail

At the same time, I now accept that certain shapes be blurrier or more hazy than in my previous work.  That suggests depth.

And if even squares can fall in love, why not imitate them during the new year?  So I make a further wish: that all of you create new images with every alternative technique, both possible and imaginable.

Cordierly yours,



  1. Bravo Pierre,
    I love your experiments, with or without imperfections.
    Happy New Year!

  2. Happy New Year to you Pierre and thank you for the wishes - love is a rare and needed quality these days and loving squares work perfectly as an example for all of us.

    And thank you for sharing the work - beautiful - I happen to especially like the fragile beauty of Zigzagogram.

    It is the chance occurrence related to risk taking - the flow of the chemicals on paper, and in my case the odd drip or splatter of soft resist in the making of Chemigrams - that give the final images energy and interest. Without that as you say, it could be computer generated and, I believe, a less engaging image.

    Happy New Year to you and to the growing universe of Chemigram creators.

  3. Ah the joy of perfection/imperfection, you cannot have one without the other, thank you Pierre once again for your candidness and obvious love for your art.

    Deri Matthews

  4. What is his magical varnish, where can I buy it

    1. Pierre's magical varnish has magically disappeared. He believes it was a type of protectant or lubricant for metals, but after a tour of Brussels hardware stores in 2009 he concluded it was no longer on the market. Today he uses products like picture varnishes, such as Golden's MSA Varnish. But be careful - each has its own properties, and some work while others do not.