Claude Cahun Paris Retrospective
- Written by Bob Roberts
Claude Cahun (1894-1954) featured with a retrospective of her work at Paris' Jeu de Paume, is one of the earliest autobiographical photographers to probe gender issues. Associated with the Surrealists she has something approaching cult status in today's art world. However, her work was almost unknown until the early 1980s, when it was championed by the research of Francois Leperlier, which resulted in an exhibition in 1995 at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and public attention.
Her literary and photographic work reveal an extraordinary libertarian personality who defied sexual and social conventions. Among her many photographs, it is her self-portraits that have aroused the greatest interest in recent years. Throughout her life, Cahun used her own image to dismantle the cliches surrounding ideas of identity.
She constantly reinvented herself through photography, posing for the lens with a keen sense of performance and role-play, dressed as a woman or a man, with her hair long or very short, or even with a shaved head. This approach was extended in innovative ways with her photos of objects and use of photomontages, which asserted the primacy of the imagination and metamorphosis. To Sept 25, 2011, Jeu de Paume, 1, Place de la Concorde, Paris 75008.