Photography

Cahun, Claude (1894 - 1954)

In the late 1910s, Lucy Schwob borrows her great-uncle’s surname and becomes Claude Cahun. The French photographer lately joins the Surrealist movement she strongly singularizes with her original and powerful works although she is seen as a marginal by the males of the group. What mainly remains are her self-portraits that diffuse an intimate, poetic and autobiographical feel while they also establish an innovative approach. With her own image, Claude Cahun reinvents the concept of the self, recreating her identity with masculine as well as feminine costumes, wigs and make-up, a precursory performance that erases genres to build a unique unclassifiable human type - ‘Masculine, feminine. It depends. Neutral is the genre that suits me best’ - Her surrealist photomontages that feature bizarre scenographies around everyday objects there again annihilate the original meaning to focus on the imagination and transformation. Claude Cahun’s whole production symbolizes absence and mystery. Revolutionary in her work, the photographer also was in her personal life: a libertarian that refused conventions and assumed her homosexuality and political ideas. André Breton once said she defended her ideas like a man but that sounds too simplistic, too misogynous…Claude Cahun simply fought for her individuality.

Claude Cahun, What Do You Want from Me?, 1928
Claude Cahun, What Do You Want from Me?, 1928
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, Mask, c. 1928, RMN
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, Mask, c. 1928, RMN
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait Covered by Masks, 1929
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait Covered by Masks, 1929
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1919
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1919
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1921
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1921
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1927
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1927
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1938
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1938
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, c. 1929
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, c. 1929
Claude Cahun, Confessions , 1930
Claude Cahun, Confessions , 1930
Claude Cahun, I Speak By Heart, c. 1936
Claude Cahun, I Speak By Heart, c. 1936
Claude Cahun, Between Us, 1926
Claude Cahun, Between Us, 1926
Claude Cahun, Showcase of Shoes, 1936
Claude Cahun, Showcase of Shoes, 1936
Claude Cahun, The Pick-Axe Heart, 1936
Claude Cahun, The Pick-Axe Heart, 1936
Claude Cahun, Take a Little Pointed Stick, 1936
Claude Cahun, Take a Little Pointed Stick, 1936
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1927
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1927
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1929
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1929
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1930
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1930
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1947
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1947
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1954
Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1954
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1912
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1912
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1928
Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1928
Claude Cahun, Three Little Shoes, 1936
Claude Cahun, Three Little Shoes, 1936