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

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • 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:

    E.718-2005

  • 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

Platinum print by Claude Cahun, image of a collage, 1930, printed 2004, from the book 'Aveux non Avenus'. The artist's face is depicted multiple times in a tower on the left beside the text 'Sous le masque il y a une autre masque' (Under the mask there is another mask). Above this is a large Matryoshka doll figure with a cutaway front to reveal a foetus. Smaller dolls with a similar motif decrease in size across the top of the image. Cahun appears twice more in the bottom right, with text written on their chest reading 'I am in training. Don't kiss me'.

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

Dimensions

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’
1930

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 []

Techniques

Platinum process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Subject; Lgbtq; Masks; Birth; Gender; Identity; Foetus; Butch; Self

Categories

Photographs; Gender and Sexuality; LGBTQ

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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