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Claude Cahun at Jeu de Paume Paris

This exhibition at Jeu de Paume dedicated to Claude Cahun is the first one on such a scale to be held in France in sixteen years. It brings together major works and others that are lesser known or have rarely been exhibited.

Claude Cahun, Autoportrait, c. 1939 Jersey Heritage Collection © Jersey Heritage via jeu de paume

Claude Cahun, born Lucy Renée Mathilde Schwob, reinvented herself through the medium of photography. Whether dressed as a man or as a woman, she posed for the lens with a palpable sense of performance. She took tremendous care in choosing poses and expressions as well as backgrounds and specific props such as masks, capes and overgarments. Having said that, the focus of her pictures always remained the face.

Claude Cahun, Autoportrait, c. 1929 Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes © RMN / Gérard Blot via jeu de paume

Photography was an essential part of Cahun’s life starting from the age of fifteen or sixteen. The corpus of works on display at Jeu de Paume spans five decades, from 1913 to 1954. Undoubtedly, it is her self-portraits that have aroused the greatest interest, as the artist used her own image to expose, one by one, the clichés of feminine and masculine identity. Unlike other artists who made portraits but rarely exposed themselves, Cahun was at once the object and the subject of her own artistic experiments, and the exhibition emphasises the innovative quality of these experiments.

Claude Cahun, Autoportrait, c. 1929 Collection Neuflize Vie © Photo André Morin via jeu de paume

When examining the work of Claude Cahun, her close relationship with her lover and companion, Suzanne Malherbe, must always be kept in mind. A number of works were the result of a collaboration between the two women.

Claude Cahun, Autoportrait, c. 1929 Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris © Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris / Parisienne de Photographie via jeu de paume

The exhibition at Jeu De Paume, open until the 25th September 2011, features some 140 works as well as numerous documents. It is articulated around eight main themes including Metamorphoses of Identity and the Subversion of Gender, Poetry and Politics, Metaphors of Desire, and Elective Encounters.

For further information, visit: www.jeudepaume.org.

written by webo29

4 comments

  1. ihave2pillows

    ihave2pillows

    Wow, some of those are almost a hundred years old...

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  2. webo29

    webo29

    @ihave2pillows Yes. She was really something. Watch this too if you've got 13 mins to spare. http://www.youtube.c(…)v7QXL2fiAKQ

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  3. ihave2pillows

    ihave2pillows

    "At the end of the day, everyone is playing a role" - so true!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  4. ihave2pillows

    ihave2pillows

    Thanks for the link, I feel there's so much to be discovered and rediscovered... and in a way, we're all waiting to be found!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam