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Claude Cahun: The great photographer of the movement

  • Claude Cahun wanted to emphasize her androgeny and her Jewish ancestry

This is a profile of an artist whose work is currently on show at the 'We are completely free. Women artists and surrealism' exhibition at the Picasso Museum in Malaga. Read more about it here.

Lucie Schwob was born in Nantes in 1894 to an upper middle class family. At 15 she fell in love with Suzanne Malherber, who was 17, and became her alter ego forever. She changed her name to Claude Cahun. “Changing their name was something else common to these women; they wanted to be someone else, didn't want the name they had been given, didn't connect to that identity. They constructed their own,” says José Lebrero.

Claude Cahun wanted to emphasize her androgeny and her Jewish ancestry. A marriage between the girls' parents made them sisters and they went to live in Paris together. They took photos. They met Breton. In 1937, during the war, they went to Jersey, where they designed and manufactured artefacts to confuse the enemy, the Nazis. They were arrested and sentenced to death, but were saved by the war coming to an end.

This surrealist photographer was also a writer, poet, political activitist, lesbian, heroine of the Resistance, icon of feminism and a cult figure for many.