Obelisk Art History
The Artists

Claude Cahun
“Under this mask, another mask”

Portrait of Claude Cahun

“Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me.”

Claude Cahun claimed their name at age 24, dropping Lucie Renee Mathilde Schwob in favor of the intentionally gender-neutral Claude. Independance was natural for Claude, whose mother was institutionalized when they were four years old, and who changed schools after dealing with anti-Semitism at their provincial high school in Nantes. Self-portraiture is often adopted as a tool for self-discovery and Claude Cahun began taking self-portraits at 18, and continued throughout their life to push the genre into increasingly surreal and provocative directions.

Cahun’s personas were dramatic and varied—aviator, dandy, doll, body builder, vampires and angels, but the photographs were private ones, often taken by Cahun’s life-partner and fellow gender-neutral artist and writer, Marcel Moore. Though Cahun joined the surrealist art group Association des Écrivains et Artistes Révolutionnaires, in 1932, and became friends with André Breton and René Crevel, Cahun’s mesmerizing self-portraits were unrecognized until 40 years after their death.

Reed Enger, "Claude Cahun, “Under this mask, another mask”," in Obelisk Art History, Published March 23, 2018; last modified November 06, 2022, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/claude-cahun/.

wikipedia.org
moma.org

Claude Cahun was a French LGBTQ Artist and Photographer born on October 25, 1894. Cahun contributed to the Surrealist movement and died on December 8, 1954.

Studies for a keepsake, Claude Cahun

Studies for a keepsake 1925 – 1926

I am in training, don't kiss me, Claude Cahun

I am in training, don't kiss me 1927

Self-portrait, 1928, Claude Cahun

Self-portrait, 1928 1928

What do you want from me?, Claude Cahun

What do you want from me? 1928

The Claude Cahun, Self Portrait, Claude Cahun

The Claude Cahun, Self Portrait 1929

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Exist Otherwise: The Life and Works of Claude Cahun, Recommended Reading

Follow Claude Cahun and their partner Marcel Moore from their deconstruction of gender norms in the 1920s through Cahun's dangerous acts of resistance during the Nazi occupation of the island of Jersey. A fascinating life.

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