Art Nerd: My New Icon, Claude Cahun

I’m currently taking an Art from 1900-1945 (although it should be called European Art from 1900-1945), and have been really dissatisfied with the number of female artists we’ve studied so far in the 8 out of the 10 weeks that make up the quarter.  Sure we looked at Hannah Höch’s Pretty Girl , 1920, and the textiles and designs of Varvara Stepanova and Lyubov Popova briefly when discussing their respective art movements of Dadaism and Constructivism, but then again we spent two whole class periods on Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon alone.  And while this is obviously a problem and I intend to lecture my professor about it many (more) times before the quarter’s through, I am grateful that he did give us a glimpse into the work of another female artist, the French Surrealist Claude Cahun.

I.O.U (self-pride), 1929-1930

Self-Portrait, 1929

  Now, Surrealism really must just be my thing, if you remember I had a period of buoyancy when discovering the Latin American female “Surrealists”.  But what I love about Cahun is her androgynous self-portraits that show us really how arbitrary and weak are social constructions of gender and identity.  I think self-portraiture is one of the most fascinating and perhaps most important components of art history.  I am kind of renowned for posting self-portraits (okay, selfies) on Instagram all of the time, but I have this urge to be, well, better and more professional about it.  I have this old camera I accidentally stole from my senior year AP Photo class in high school and is old and bit broken that creates these cool, half double exposed photos.  Maybe I’ll start playing around with that and see if I can emulate this Surrealist hero at all.   I’m far from being an expert on her yet, so I’ll just leave you with some of her fantastic photo montages and self-portraits, and if anyone has a good book suggestion where I can read more about her and her writings, let me know!  (Or of any other artists similar you think I would dig.)

Self Portrait, 1929

Self Portrait, 1932

Don't Kiss Me, I'm in Training, 1927

Confessions Void plate 1, 1929-1930


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