Thursday, 26 February 2009


What Do You Want From Me?, Claude Cahun (1928)

Claude Cahun (1894–1954) the French surrealist artist, photographer and writer. Born Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, she was the niece of writer Marcel Schwob and the great-niece of Orientalist David Léon Cahun. She was raised by her maternal grandmother, Mathilde Cahun.

Cahun began taking photographic self-portraits as early as 1912, when she was merely 18 years old, and continued doing so through the 1930s. Her work, which was both political and personal, questioned the accepted notions of sexuality, gender, beauty, and logic. She collaborated with her stepsister and lover Suzanne Malherbe, who had adopted the pseudonym Marcel Moore.

In 1937 she and Moore fled France and settled in the Bay of St Brelade on Jersey. Forever the radical activists, they carried out acts of resistance against the occupying German force. In 1944 Cahun was arrested and condemned to death, but the island was liberated before the sentence could be carried out. She died on Jersey 10 years later.

Further reading:

Disavowals: or Cancelled Confessions by Claude Cahun
Don't Kiss Me by Claude Cahun, Marcel Moore

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1 comment:

Jill said...

This was fascinating and so poignant...thanks for this post.