Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore were an extraordinary couple who worked and lived together for more than 40 years. Cahun and Moore were the pseudonyms for Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, who met in their teens and embarked on their unique relationship. They travelled from provincial Nantes to the hot-house atmosphere of Paris and finally to Jersey, where they found the space and freedom to develop their ideas but where they were to suffer imprisonment during the Nazi occupation for their Resistance activities. Theirs was an extraordinary artistic collaboration that produced some of the most original images and literary works to be associated with Surrealism. Best known for her riveting photographic "self-portraits" (the book argues forcefully that all of her works were collaborations with Moore, negating the validity of the term) Cahun has come to prominence in recent years particularly for the way in which her self-image was manipulated, creating mysterious, androgynous personae that seem eerily ahead of their time.
A selection of international authors examine Cahun and Moore's lives; their theatrical, literary and performance activities; their relationship with the wider Surrealist movement; and Cahun's photographic technique. The book also includes the first thorough account of the Resistance activities, trial, imprisonment and attempted suicides of the two artists during the Nazi occupation of Jersey. The extensive illustrations include previously unseen photographs and drawings, manuscripts and ephemera. The wealth of new material in this fascinating survey makes it an essential purchase for all those with an interest in Cahun and Moore, photography, gender studies or Surrealism.
Louise Downie is curator of art for the Jersey Heritage Trust which holds the Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore collections.