Some of the Poetics of the object The “assemblages of objects,” which make their appearance in around 1925, inventively explore what at the time was still a rather new form.
However, her work was almost unknown until the early 1980s, when it was championed by the research of François Leperlier, after which exhibitions at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes (1994) and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1995) brought it to public attention.Her life and work (both literary and artistic) bespeak an extraordinary libertarian personality who defied sexual, social and ethical conventions in what was an age of avant-garde and moral upheaval.In fact, a number of the photographs here were taken by Suzanne following Claude’s suggestions.A double portrait from 1921 shows a surprising parallel which could be read as a metaphor of their relationship, a deep closeness and understanding between two strong personalities.This “theatre of objects” has both a visual and symbolic significance, which Cahun explained in her text Metamorphoses of identity and the subversion of gender (continued) The 1930s saw Cahun continuing to explore images of the self.
However, questions of sexual difference and its social and cultural construction were now less to the fore as she went deeper into the potential of situations and disguises and experimented with duplication in a way that extended the work of the photomontages from the late 1920s.
Among her many photographs, it is undoubtedly her self-portraits that have aroused the greatest interest in recent years.
Throughout her life, Cahun used her own image to dismantle the clichés surrounding ideas of identity.
By exploring the many different analyses made of Cahun’s work since the 1990s, and ranging across its different themes: from the subversive self-portraits that question identity, to her surrealist compositions, erotic metaphors and political forays, this exhibition confirms the modernity of a figure who, as a pioneer of self-representation and the poetry of objects, has been an important influence for many contemporary artists.
Metamorphoses of identity and the subversion of gender (I) This set of photographs, going from 1913 to the end of the 1920s, includes some of Cahun’s major works, in which she staged her own persona, emphasising disguise and masks, and working through variations on gender: feminine, masculine, androgyne, undifferentiated.
These photographs capture ephemeral set-ups, often in a natural setting (garden, beach).