'Chemigram 29/11/57 I, 29 novembre 1957', chemigram on gelatin-silver paper by Pierre Cordier, 1957.
Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne/Centre de Création Industrielle
Cordier has described his works as a mutation, as hybrid and marginal - fake photographs of an imaginary, improbable and inaccessible world. Writing to Cordier in 1974, the photographer Brassaï exclaimed: 'The result of your process is diabolical - and very beautiful. Whatever you do, don't divulge it!
'Chemigram + Photogram circa 1958 CAT. 13', chemigram on gelatin-silver paper by Pierre Cordier, about 1958. Museum no. E.855-2010 Gift of the artist
This piece is among Cordier's earliest works and combines the two forms of experimental photography: the photogram and chemigram. Fittingly, its cosmic yet small-scale appearance signals a new beginning, like a nucleus of energy before the Big Bang.
'Chemigram 8/2/61 I, 8 février 1961', chemigram on gelatin-silver paper by Pierre Cordier, 1961. Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne/Centre de Création Industrielle. Gift of the Artist
The simplest form of chemigram involves the application of photographic developer and fixer to gelatin-silver photographic paper, using the chemicals like watercolours. Developer creates dark areas, while fixer produces lighter tones. Cordier used this method here, pouring rather than brushing the chemicals on to a lightly oiled sheet of photographic paper.
'Chemigram 7/5/82 II ''Pauli Kleei ad Marginem'', chemigram on gelatin-silver paper by Pierre Cordier, 1982. Private Collection
Paul Klee's painting Ad Marginem (1930) shows prehistoric-looking creatures and foliage surrounding a solar motif. Cordier recasts Klee's painting diagrammatically, transforming the solar disc into a triangle and retaining the original placement of forms but as if in an alien code
'Chemigram 20/3/92 "from La Suma of Jorge Luis Borges", chemigram on gelatin-silver paper by Pierre Cordier, 1992. Museum no. E.859-2010. Gift of the artist
Cordier's fondness for labyrinthine patterns, this time in the form of words, is shown in this reference to the Argentinian writer, poet and philosopher Jorge Luis Borges. It is composed of letter forms that spell out Borges's poem 'La Suma'. The letters, however, are almost impossible to decipher, their shapes joining together as paths forking in different directions.
'Chemigram 31/7/01 ''Hommage à Georges Perec'', chemigram on gelatin-silver paper by Pierre Cordier, 2001. Museum no. E.856-2010. Gift of the artist