Claude Cahun



Claude Cahun

Past: May 24 → September 25, 2011

Cahun grid Claude Cahun Claude Cahun n'est pas né(e) à la bonne époque. Inconnue jusqu'en 1980, il fallu des yeux contemporains pour savoir aimer son œuvre... 2 - Bien Critique Untitled 2000 grid Panorama 08/11 Tour d'horizon sans concession des expositions parisiennes du mois d'août.

This exhibition at Jeu de Paume, the first one on such scale to be held in France for sixteen years, brings together a broad ensemble of major works, some of which are little known or have seldom been exhibited. It highlights both the diversity and the unity of the photographic work of Claude Cahun (1894-1954).

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.

Some of these propositions can be found in the photographs of objects that she began in the mid-1920s and developed throughout the 1930s. The exhibition emphasises the highly innovative quality of these experiments in which she explores questions and visual and symbolic procedures (staging, superposition of photos, photomontage) that continue her speculations on self-metamorphosis.

08 Paris 8 Zoom in 08 Paris 8 Zoom out

1, place de la Concorde

75008 Paris

T. 01 47 03 12 50


Opening hours

Every day except Monday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Late night on Tuesday until 9 PM

Admission fee

Full rate €11,20 — Concessions €8,70

The artist