(Self Portrait, 1928)
In my art & design theory/history classes this semester, we came across the artist Claude Cahun–and I think that her story was too cool not to share. A Jewish French artist, Lucy Schwob adopted the androgynous name Claude Cahun, and produced prolific work exploring gender and beauty throughout her lifetime. She took hundreds of self portraits, donning different guises, and also created numerous literary works.
She also famously collaborated with Suzanne Malherbe, AKA Marcel Moore, to create art that broke the boundaries of aesthetic and societal normality. Cahun and Moore were involved in a lesbian relationship which they hid from the public (even though their parents married, making them stepsisters).
Amazingly, Cahun and Moore escaped to the Isle of Jersey right on the cusp of World War II and became a force to be reckoned with. They responded to the German invasion by launching a fierce anti-Nazi resistance movement, distributing flyers, translating messages, and even putting on costumes around the island. The women were sentenced to death, but were freed in 1945 after Jersey’s liberation. I found it admirable that the couple were willing to put their lives in danger in order to follow their beliefs and fight for what they believed was right. True martyrs, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore will be remembered for their astonishing bravery and artistic genius.