Pierre Cordier

Pierre Cordier invented the chemigram in 1956. The chemigram combines the physics of painting (varnish, wax, oil) and the chemistry of photography (photosensitive emulsion, developer, fixer); without a camera, without an enlarger, and in full light. Cordier’s abstractions entice us to enter imaginary worlds of form, line and colour. Pierre Cordier’s chemigrams have been exhibited internationally, including at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris;  the Musée d’Art Moderne, Brussels; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London;  and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.


Selected Biography


Born January 28, 1933 in Brussels, Belgium.


In 1952, meets the great French poet Georges Brassens, who encourages him to follow a road not yet travelled and full of obstacles.


On November 10, 1956, invents the chemigram technique that combines the physics of painting (varnish, wax, oil) and the chemistry of photography (photosensitive emulsion, developer, fixer); without a camera, without an enlarger, and in full light.


In 1957, first and only photographic reporting (Turkey, Syria, Iraq)


In 1958, Otto Steinert invites him to attend a course at his school in Saarbrücken, Germany. Being self-taught, it was his only formal photographic study course. While practicing as a professional photographer, a career abandoned in 1967, he continues to explore the chemigram technique: photo-chemigram (1963), magical varnish (1972) and between 1962 and 1974, participates in experimental films.


From 1965 to 1998, lecturer at the École nationale supérieure des Arts visuels de la Cambre in Brussels.


In 1967, exhibits with Denis Brihat and Jean-Pierre Sudre at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


In 1968, co-founder with Gottfried Jäger of the Generative Fotografie in Germany.


In 1976, befriends the historian Helmut Gernsheim and, in 1977, while travelling in the US, meets Aaron Siskind who becomes his spiritual father.


In 1979, during the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France, participates in a film based on a short story by Michel Tournier, gives his first workshop of the technique and meets Brassaï and Lartigue.


In 1988, retrospective of his work at the Musée d’Art moderne in Brussels.


In 1993, presents his Homage to Jorge Luis Borges LivrillisibleLa SumaTopograms at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and, in 1996, in the R.I.P. in Arles.


In 1998, publishes a book of his personal photographs of Georges Brassens and, in 2001, edits a compact disc of his original recordings made in 1952 and 1955.


Corresponding member of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie and associate member of the Académie royale de Belgique, classe des Beaux-Arts, section Peinture et Arts apparentés.


In 2006, establishes Pierre Cordier Foundation.


In 2007, Cinquante ans du chimigramme, retrospective exhibition at the Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi, Belgium and publication of his monograph, le chimigramme – the chemigram by Racine, Brussels.


In 2008-2009, five chemigrams are exhibited at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris,  with the new acquisitions of the Musée national d’art moderne.

In 2010, exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London) ; acquisition of five chemigrams.


In 2011, exhibition at HackelBury Fine Art (London) and Haines Gallery (San Francisco), “Science of Sight”.


Since May 2011, collaboration with the Austrian painter Gundi Falk.


In 2012, edition of « L’En-allée », Yaël Cange (text), Pierre Cordier & Gundi Falk (illustrations), La Pierre d’Alun, Brussels.


In 2013, exhibition “Unique” at von Lintel Gallery (New York), and participation to Paris Photo.


In 2014, group exhibition at Haines Gallery (San Francisco).


In 2018, exhibition at HackelBury Fine Art (London), chemigram included in inaugural hang of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s new centre for photography.