Issue 22, Autumn-Winter 1959-1960
Brigitte Coudrain was born 26 years ago in Paris. She lives there still. In 1954, after completing her preliminary studies, she entered the atelier-école of the well-known engraver, Friedlaender. There she acquired that astonishing knowledge of the techniques of her art which is the mark of all Friedlaender's students. The limited selection of her work which follows does not, unfortunately, show the full range of her virtuosity with the medium. But what it does show—more perhaps than her dusky undulating landscapes or her fine figuring of strange plants in the colors and frailty of pressed flowers—is the distinctive quality of an imagination which has not been blurred by the gratuitous elaboration of a well-learned craft.
Since Madame de Pompadour, engraving has occasionally been practised by members of the "gentler" sex, but it is hardly a gentle art. The technique of inflicting tiny violences through wax on copper or zinc, then brushing acid into the wounds seems on the contrary, the supreme refinement of a delicate viciousness. Be that as it may, Brigitte Coudrain has created a collection of beasts and mythological bipeds whose disconcerting images betray the mordant process by which they were made. Animals with fur precisely combed and plucked, nudes whose dew-drop figures frame the sex, all these creatures seem etched with mild ironic acerbity. And yet these bizarre little figures transfixed at the moment of love or decision or some quixotic hunting, these homed cats (or are they cows with claws?) with riding birds like dainty parasites possess something of the guileless delight of the child who frightens herself with imagined terrors... then laughs.