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Déclinaison du collectif. Christian Dotremont : de Cobra aux logogrammes


Surrealism involved dialogue between artists and the arts that crossed national boundaries. Likewise inspired by a dedication to collaboration and the ideal of breaking down ontological barriers, Belgian poet Christian Dotremont (1922-1979) founded the Cobra group in 1948. Based on an acronym that designates the cities of its members (Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Brussels), the name Cobra demonstrates the goals of the new movement, which sought to transform Surrealism and broaden its scope outside of the Parisian space. Though Cobra painters and poets are best known for their composite experimental artworks, they also experimented inside the same creative space: the canvas. I use these encounters between text and image in a single work to contextualize my analysis of the relationship between poetry and painting in Dotremont’s own art. I illustrate how he integrates the pluralistic Cobra approach to art into the logograms that he first invented in 1962 through his explorations of the materiality of language. I argue that the artistic approach developed by Cobra continues to influence these hybrid poems and to redefine the text as a visual object.

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