Christian DOTREMONT - biography
Christian Dotremont was born in 1922 in Tervuren (Belgium). His mother wrote poems and worked at Degrelle Editions while his father directed the «Revue Latine».
1925: Birth of his sister Colette who dies accidentally in 1926, while his brother Guy is born.
1931: Due to the separation of his parents, Christian is placed in boarding school in Namur, then continues his studies in Louvain andnally Liège. This period will give birth to a collection of poemsentitled «Memories of a young convict» published in Brussels in 1941. 1939: Series of poems inspired by his love for Doris are published in Louvain.
1940: He publishes his poem «Ancienne Éternité» which is hailed by the Belgian surrealists (Magritte, Scutenaire and Ubac) and becomes the youngest member of the Belgian group.
1941: He goes to Paris where he meets Paul Eluard who takes him
to Pablo Picasso. He takes part in the activities of the surrealist group «La main à la plume» animated by Noël Arnaud. He also meets Bachelard, Cocteau, Domìnguez, Eluard, Alberto Giacometti, Max Jacob.
1943: Christian Dotremont returns to Belgium and founds the publishing house «Le serpent de mer». He meets his wife Ai-Li Mian whom he will marry in 1944. He will then become interested in Chinese writing.
1945: With Marcel Mariën and Paul Colinet, he founded the weekly magazine Le Ciel bleu (9 issues). He joins the Communist Party and will be particularly active there.
1946: In Paris, he meets Yves Bonnefoy, Edouard Jaguer and Tristan Tzara.
With Jean Seeger, he founds the surrealist magazine «Les Deux Sœurs» (3 issues).
1947: He sets up the «revolutionary surrealist» group in Belgium with Seeger and Paul Bourgoignie, from which a magazine is derived, in reaction to Breton and the exhibition at the Galerie Maeght. He also founds the «International Bureau of Revolutionary Surrealism» with Noël Arnaud and Asger Jorn.
8 November 1948: At the café Le Notre-Dame in Paris, alongside
Appel, Constant, Corneille, Jorn and Noiret, he creates the CoBrA movement (Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam), a new international and experimental art form, and writes its manifesto.
He makes his rst trip to Denmark, with Jorn and the rstspontaneous word paintings.
1949: In March, rst CoBrA exhibition, The End and the Means, atthe Séminaire des Arts in Brussels; he meets Pierre Alechinsky, who immediately joins CoBrA.
In Amsterdam, rst international exhibition of CoBrA experimentalart at the Stedelijk museum.
1950: He discovers the hidden face of his writing and publishes
in issue 7 of CoBrA the fundamental article «Signi cation and sini cation», the stakes of which will be veri ed twelve years laterin the invention of the logogram.
He meets Max Ernst in Paris.
1951: He learns that he is suffering from tuberculosis (the «hole» and the «stain», the main elements of his novel).
Meets the second woman in his life, Bente Wittenburg (Gloria or Ulla).
Jorn paints his portrait at the Silkeborg sanatorium where he is hospitalised while the last CoBrA exhibition opens at the Museum ofFine Arts in Liège.
The CoBrA movement ends in November.
1952: He moves to Tervuren and writes his autobiography «The Stone and the Pillow» (published in 1955). His relationship with Bente becomes tormented and Bente goes to his parents.
1953: Still ill, he leaves for Sweden to stay a few months at the sanatorium in Eupen.
1954: He collaborates to the Nouvelle revue française and travels with the Alechinsky family in the South of France and in Italy.
1955: He becomes a night corrector for the newspaper «La Cité».1956: He makes his rst trip to Lapland, to Rovaniemi, Ivalo. This tripis a real revelation for him, he will multiply them until 1978.
First exhibition of CoBrA «after» CoBrA, in Brussels.
1960: His state of health is still precarious. He begins writing the «Memoirs of an Imaginist» (completed in 1963, published in 1981). 1961: He makes his Lappish drawings.
1962: He organises the exhibition «CoBrA and after (and even before)» in Brussels.
He invents the concept of «logogram», de ned as a «painting text
due to an intimate spontaneous interaction of verbal imagination anda graphic upheaval of the alphabet». The rst ones are made with pencil; then in bold pastel, in colour, in Silkeborg, on his return from his third trip to Lapland.
1963: He draws on the ground the rst «logoglaces» and «logoneiges»and makes the logograms with Indian ink. He founds the journal- edition Strates.
1964: Composes Logogram I (Strata)
1965: Composes Logogram II (Strata)
1966: Dotremont expresses his disagreement with the exhibition called «CoBrA» organized at the Boymans Museum in Rotterdam.
1968 : Seriously ill, he returns to the Buizingen sanatorium where hemakes his rst large logograms.
Personal exhibition in Copenhagen «Yes and no - maybe. Ja, nej - og maske» and exhibition in Maastricht «Schrifttekens» (accompanied by the text I write therefore I create).
1969: He moves to the pension Pluie de Roses in Tervuren and creates «Logogramme J’écris à Gloria».
First personal exhibition in Brussels, at the Maya gallery.
1971: First personal exhibition at the Galerie de France in Paris (preface by Yves Bonnefoy).
He publishes «Typographismes».
1972: Participates in the 36th Venice Biennale alongside Alechinsky at the BelgianPavilion.
Luc de Heusch shoots the lm «Dotremont-les-logogrammes».
First exhibition in New York.
Publication of the «Transformes, word paintings» of 1950 with Atlan. 1973: He learns of the death of his friend Asger Jorn during a new trip to Lapland.
1974: He publishes the «Logbook» with Yves Rivière.
1975: Essay by Max Loreau «Dotremont logograms».
1976: Mural decoration with Alechinsky for a metro station in Brussels.
1977: He meets Bente again during a stay in Denmark.
He publishes an essay entitled «Linguistique réelle».
1978: Publication of logogram «J’écris donc je crée» in Antwerp. He makes his last trip to Lapland accompanied by Anne West.
1979: Christian Dotremont dies on August 20 at the Buizingen sanatorium.