May 19, 2011

Claude Cahun : distance and metamorphosis

Claude Cahun, born Lucie Schowb (1894-1954) was an artist and photograph developing a queer approach. Friend with the Surrealists, she worked on numerous photomontages but was less known for her photographic self-portraits in which she developed an androgynous representation of the female body. 
Without a doubt, it is her self-portraits that have aroused the greatest interest among theoreticians of contemporary culture. Here the artist uses her own image to expose, one by one, the clichés of feminine and masculine identity. Claude Cahun (née Lucy Renée Mathilde Schwob) reinvented herself through photography (just as she did in her writing), posing for the lens with an acute sense of “performance,” whether dressed as a woman or as a man, with her hair short, long or shaven (which was extremely incongruous for women at this time). However, to speak of identity is also to speak, indirectly, of the body, and by the same token of the self-image that one projects and that becomes social as soon as it is shared. Unlike other artists – mainly men – who made portraits but never or very rarely exposed their own person to the lens (Man Ray, Hans Bellmer, André Kertész), Claude Cahun was at once the object and the subject of her artistic experiments. This is borne out by the care with which she chose her poses and expressions, the backgrounds she used (fabric, bedspreads, sheets, hangings), and her use of specific props (masks, capes, overgarments, glass balls, etc.) – even if the real focus of the image was still the face.
- in press pack of the exhibition  at the Jeu de Paume from 24  may to 25 september 2011.

En 1992, François Leperlier published a bibliographic essay named  "Distance and metamorphosis". Three heliographic and aquatinted engravings  go with  the 66 first copies of this first edition, and one can see the  enigmatic and poetic nature of the artist : 

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers : 
  • Leperlier (François). Claude Cahun. L'Ecart et la métomorphose. Essai. Paris, Jean-Michel Place, 1992, in-8, illustrated covers. First edition. Limited to 2000 copies, one of the 66 first with 3 heliographic and aquatinted engravings.