| || |
Book cover for Claude Cahun "Aveux non Avenus" (Paris: Editions du Carrefour, 1930)
Swann Galleries - New York
Courtesy of Swann Galleries (Auction, May 15, 2008, #2146, Lot 34)
Preface by Pierre Mac Orlan. Illustrated with 10 reproductions of photo-collages by Moore and Cahun. 8vo, printed white dust jacket over wrappers, very lightly soiled, starting at page 84. one of 500 numbered copies.
In 1917, the young French artist Lucie Schwob took on a new persona and decided to call herself by the gender-neutral new pseudonym, Claude Cahun. An avowed lesbian, Cahun lived openly with Suzanne Malherbe (Marcel Moore), who was her friend, companion, stepsister and collaborator. In Paris, this prominent couple became a driving force in the intellectual and artistic community during the years between the wars.
Although her manner sometimes offended the champion of surrealism André Breton, Cahun''s "Aveux non avenues" reflects surrealism''''s dream-like trademarks. The personal narrative features Cahun as both subject and object in "a compendium of reveries, aphorisms, and enigmatic intimacies on love and self-knowledge." In this work, Cahun employed elaborate photomontages to demarcate individual chapters. Within this dense imagery, earlier self-portraits interact with other visual imagery. creating a fragmented flurry of narcissism and personal identification through disjointed and multiple presentations of the body.
Cahun had no single identity, but an understanding of her self may be found in each of her personas. It is difficult, if not impossible, to separate these various creations from the woman herself. The feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir understood this as a distinctly female issue. In her magnum opus, "The Second Sex" she states, "But all her life the woman is to find the magic of her mirror a tremendous help in her effort to project herself and then attain self-identification. . . man''s body does not seem to him an object of desire, while woman, knowing and making herself object, believes she really sees herself in the glass."