Claude Cahun (1894-1954), the chosen name of the artist Lucy Schwob, was best known in her lifetime as a writer but built up a remarkable body of photographic work that only came to prominence after her death.
Politically active and involved with a wide circle of artists and intellectuals, including the surrealists, Cahun followed her own rules in both life and art. She is best known for her strikingly staged self-portraits, in which she used costumes, makeup, and technical effects to tackle themes of identity and self-representation. Her love of symmetry, mirroring, repurposing, and retouching was also reflected in her approach to other styles of photography, including portraiture, photomontage, and still-life tableaux.
Whether working alone or in collaboration with her life partner, Marcel Moore (born Suzanne Malherbe), Claude Cahun was a pioneering figure in the aesthetics of modernity who never stopped crossing boundaries of gender and genre.