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

Photograph
1930 (photographed), 2004 (printed)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C
Artist/Maker

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Platinum contact print made from 'half plate'-sized glass negative
Brief Description
Platinum print by Claude Cahun, image of a collage, 1930, printed 2004, from the book 'Aveux non Avenus'
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'.
Dimensions
  • Image height: 91mm
  • Image width: 240mm
  • Mount height: 410mm
  • Mount width: 530mm
  • Frame height: 415mm
  • Frame width: 535mm
  • Frame depth: 25mm
Styles
Gallery Label
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
Credit line
Given by Michael Hoppen
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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.
Collection
Accession Number
E.718-2005

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record createdJuly 15, 2009
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