Claude Cahun (born Lucy Shwob 1894 - 1954)

French Artist, Photographer and Writer.

There are so many photographs of Claude Cahun that it's difficult to make a choice.  I've decided on this one, taken around 1930. This is probably one of the most popular images of her; it's timeless in its modernism, and I think this is its lasting appeal. She looks out at us, not at herself in the mirror, as if the mirror is rejecting the ambiguity of the subject and echoing the societal rejection of the time. When I look at this image I'm reminded of so many Pop stars that have played with androgyny such as Bowie, Gaga and Madonna. It's a useful tool to attract attention, but at the time that this photograph was taken it was a much bigger deal to swap gender.  Cahun, a Surrealist, was even a bit much for André Breton apparently, which gives us some idea of how weird it was to not want to wear the womanly mask that was expected of all females. She will, I think, remain a lasting icon for all people, especially the young, who feel that they do not fit into the gender norms of their particular era.

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