Happy birthday, Claude Cahun!
The present Doodle praises the 127th birthday celebration of French author and surrealist photographer Claude Cahun—most popular for their purposefully unsettling yet perky self-representation photography that challenged the gender and sexuality standards of the mid 20th century.
Claude Cahun was born on this day in 1894 in Nantes, France, into a Jewish family. As the grandkid of the influential French artist David Leon Cahun and an child of a newspaper owner, Cahun grew up encompassed by innovativeness.
At 14, they met Marcel Moore, their lifelong partner and artistic collaborator. Subsequent to moving to Paris to study literature in 1919, Cahun shaved their head and adopted their famed gender-neutral name in rebellion against societal convention.
Notwithstanding gender non-conformity being broadly viewed as taboo in 1920s Paris, Cahun’s choice to publicly identify as non-binary met with controversy, however they unequivocally dismissed the public fuss.
Cahun investigated gender-fluidity through literature and melancholic self-portraiture like the 1927 series “I am in training, don’t kiss me.” This work portrayed the artist costumed as a feminized weightlifter, obscuring the line among masculine and feminine stereotypes. Notwithstanding their lifelong artistic work, Cahun worked with others to resist fascist occupation. The French government granted their endeavors with the Medal of French Gratitude in 1951.
In 2018, the Paris City Council named a street in honor of Cahun and Moore in the French capital’s 6th region, where the team once lived. As well as expanding center around their pioneering work in the Surrealist movement and breaking down gender barriers in the photographic arts, Cahun’s work has influenced gender bending celebrities, the cutting edge LGBTQ+ community, and conversations on identity and expression to this day.
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