17 July – 28 September 1997
Kunstverein München presented the exhibition of photographic works by Claude Cahun in the Neue Pinakothek, Munich.
French artist Claude Cahun (born in 1894 as Lucy Schwob in Nantes in an intellectual, Jewish bourgeois family, died in 1954) changed her name in 1916 at the age of 22 years: Lucy Schwob became Claude Cahun. This change of name to a sexual ambiguity reflects an essential part of her artistic engagement: her interest in (border) transitions, the refusal of all attributions and definitions. Cahun lived an artist's life, which is probably one of the most eccentric ones in the first half of the 20th century. She was a poet, actress, photographer, translator, essayist and revolutionary activist. Her photographic works, predominantly self-portraits, represent her lifelong metamorphosis, her oscillation between the different forms of her self-stagings. They show a peculiar transfer of classical pictorial motifs with symbolist character (like Ophelia or Magdalena) into very modern representations, which defy fixed identities like woman or man. Since the early nineties, Claude Cahun's work has been re-discussed as part of the discussion on sexuality and gender difference.