Claude Cahun's name might not be well known, but their work as an artist has been hugely influential in the lives of many Western pop culture icons (David Bowie, for example). But the line between life and art wasn't always so clear for Claude Cahun and their life partner Marcel Moore. Whether it was fucking with gender norms in self portraiture or fucking with Nazis during World War II, Claude never did things in a straightforward manner. We'll say it again, "Nazi punks, fuck off!" Now with surrealism!
A Look at Claude Cahun
Much of Claude's self-portraiture work with their life partner Marcel Moore dealt with challenging gender expectations and roles, and playing with the gaze and assumptions of the viewer. Check out some of these shots:
Symbolist and Surrealist Art
Not only did Cahun and Moore create a library of photo series, they also created other media of Symbolist and Surrealist art together-- from beautifully (and homoerotically) illustrated manuscripts and manifestos, photo-and-literary montage pieces, to surrealist sculptures and objects:
A spread from Views and Visions, Chapter 29, 'The Modern Night' and 'The Antique Light', 1919
Nazi Fighting Badasses
Later in their lives, during the Nazi occupation of France in WWII, Cahun and Moore moved to the isle of Jersey and began a misinformation propaganda campaign aimed at tanking morale of German troopsl. Adopting the persona of Der Soldat Ohne Namen (The Soldier Without a Name), they began leaving propaganda tracts and posters, resistance poems, and defaced Nazi posters all around town.
Arrest and Continued Resistance
When Cahun and Moore were arrested by the Gestapo, it did not stop their resistance efforts, as they vowed to fight the Nazi horror to their very last breaths.
If you want to learn more about Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, check out our full list of sources and further reading below!
- Claude Cahun as Anti-Nazi Resistance Fighter
- Claude Cahun is the Gender-Nonconforming Anti-Fascist Hero We Deserve
- The Art Story: Claude Cahun
Books and Print Articles:
- Exist Otherwise: The Life and Works of Claude Cahun by Jennifer L. Shaw
- Disavowals by Claude Cahun
- Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask by Sarah Howgate and Dawn Ades
- Inverted Odysseys: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman by Shelley Rice