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Photograph - Image of photomontage illustration from 'Aveux non Avenus' [Disavowed Confessions]
  • Image of photomontage illustration from 'Aveux non Avenus' [Disavowed Confessions]
    Cahun, Claude, born 1894 - died 1954
  • Enlarge image

Image of photomontage illustration from 'Aveux non Avenus' [Disavowed Confessions]

  • Object:


  • Date:

    1930 (photographed)
    2004 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cahun, Claude, born 1894 - died 1954 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Platinum contact print made from 'half plate'-sized glass negative

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Michael Hoppen

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2H, shelf DR9, box PHOTO

Claude Cahun is the pseudonym of Lucy Schwob (born Nantes 25 October 1894 – died Jersey 8 December 1954) who was a French photographer and writer. Describing themselves as 'neuter', the gender neutral pronoun 'they' will be used for the artist. Their work was both political and personal, and often played with the concepts of gender and sexuality.

They published articles and novels, notably in the periodical Mercure de France. Later, they associated with the surrealist group, and participated in a number of surrealist exhibitions, including the London International Surrealist Exhibition (New Burlington Gallery) and Exposition surréaliste d'Objets (Charles Ratton Gallery, Paris), both in 1936.

The prints that form part of the V&A's collection relate to the photomontage illustrations published in Cahun’s autobiographical essay, 'Aveux non Avenus' ('Disavowed Confessions') (Paris: Editions du Carrefour, 1930). The ‘half plate’-sized glass negatives used to re-photograph their montages were hidden by Cahun during the occupation of Jersey (where they settled with their partner, Marcel Moore, in 1937) and only rediscovered in 1971. No vintage prints of the images are known to survive and are only otherwise known in the original book form. Cahun is not known to have made platinum prints, preferring to use gelatin silver, and so the distinction that these are modern prints – made using platinum – is subtle but clear. These prints are not intended to be facsimiles of originals but rather to serve as a record of the negatives in the absence of any known vintage prints.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of a photo collage depicting various isolated body-parts reassembled in an icon-like composition. Centrally, two arms extend up from a pair of lips and cradle a ball containing an eye. Two pairs of arms are present on either side of the lips, holding spherical objects.


1930 (photographed)
2004 (printed)


Cahun, Claude, born 1894 - died 1954 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Platinum contact print made from 'half plate'-sized glass negative


Height: 91 mm image, Width: 240 mm image, Height: 410 mm mount, Width: 530 mm mount, Height: 415 mm frame, Width: 535 mm frame, Depth: 25 mm frame

Descriptive line

Platinum print by Claude Cahun, image of a collage, 1930, printed 2004, from the book 'Aveux non Avenus'

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

François Leperlier, (ed.), Claude Cahun: Écrits, Paris: Jean-Michel Place, 2002.
Alison, Jane (Ed.) Malissard, Coralie (Ed.) Modern couples : art, intimacy and the avant-garde London : Barbican ; Prestel, 2018.

Labels and date

Gallery 100, 2016-17:

Claude Cahun (1894–1954)
From ‘Aveux non Avenus’

In 1930, Claude Cahun (born Lucy Schwob) published
an autobiographical essay featuring photomontage illustrations. They incorporated self-portraits, x-rays, fragmented body parts, drawings of fetuses and animal skeletons. She photographed the montages and the negatives were printed after her death. In her art and life Cahun defied gender roles and addressed the subjects of sexuality and identity.

Platinum prints (printed 2004)
Given by Michael Hoppen
Museum nos. E.716, 718, 720, 721-2005 []


Platinum process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Doves; Identity; Eyes; Globes; Lgbtq; Gender


Photographs; Gender and Sexuality; LGBTQ


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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