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date: 23 August 2019

Cahun, Claude [Schwob, Lucy ]locked

(b Nantes, Oct 25, 1894; d St Hélier, Jersey, Dec 8, 1954).
  • Catherine M. Grant

Extract

[Schwob, Lucy ]

(b Nantes, Oct 25, 1894; d St Hélier, Jersey, Dec 8, 1954).

French photographer, writer, and sculptor. She changed her name around 1917 and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and briefly at Oxford before settling in Paris in the early 1920s with her stepsister, lover, and lifelong companion Suzanne Malherbe. Her early self-portraits show Cahun with shaved hair and mannish clothes, as in Self-portrait (c. 1920; St Helier, Jersey Mus. Service), creating a persona that was confrontational to contemporary ideas of femininity. During the 1920s Cahun and Malherbe were a prominent lesbian couple in Parisian avant-garde circles. During this time Cahun created numerous self-portraits that played with the notion of a fixed identity, dressing up as various characters including a weight-lifter, aviator, dandy, and doll. The theatricality of these portraits, such as Self-portrait with Masks (c. 1928; Nantes, Mus. B.-A.), has been seen as a precursor to the performative work of later 20th-century artists such as Cindy Sherman. Cahun was also active within the Surrealist movement during the 1930s, signing many of their statements and writings on art, revolution, and sexuality. She made sculptures using found objects, such as ...

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