By Gavin James Bower
Claude Cahun is crucial artist you've by no means heard of - previously. author, photographer, lesbian; innovative activist, surrealist, resistance fighter - Cahun witnessed the start of the Paris avant-garde, lived via global Wars and, as 'Der Soldat ohne Namen', risked loss of life by means of inciting mutiny on Nazi-occupied Jersey. And but, she's till lately been only a peripheral determine in those world-shaping occasions, relegated by way of lecturers to the footnotes within the historical past of artwork, sexual politics and progressive events of the final century. Now extra so than ever, Cahun calls for an important presence within the background of surrealism and the avant-garde - even, within the literary canon of early twentieth-century literature. certainly her one significant booklet, Disavowals, is a masterpiece of anti-memoir writing. a lot has been made up of her as a photographer, yet Claude Cahun 'the writer' was once probably the most radical and prescient leftists of the century. At a time while her celebrity is emerging like by no means earlier than Claude Cahun: The Soldier without identify represents the 1st specific try out in English to posit Cahun as an immense determine in her personal correct, and to popularise probably the most prescient and influential artists of her iteration.
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Extra info for Claude Cahun: The Soldier with No Name
Once again the essence of the matter does not lie in any purpose or programme behind the work. Chagall, when he explained his ideas in words, wrote not only naively but at times with something of provincial pomposity (although also with touching sincerity). His thoughts never fail to become a sort of interpretation of something that has already been done although they are set out as a concept, and not as an interpretation. But neither his sharp intuition nor his ironic mind were strong enough to encompass his own creation; this is possible only in a detached onlooker and also after a lapse of time, in the context of his work as a whole.
Petersburg. Page 53: The Newspaper Vendor, 1914. 5 cm. Collection Ida Chagall, Paris. 52 It is probably impossible to understand Chagall if we are perpetually surprised by the emotional contradictions in works created at the same time. The many-sided nature of the world, and the natural co-existence within it – not struggling with each other – of both pain and happiness, were evident to the artist. Once again – without shadow there is no light, without recollection there is no foresight, without suffering no happiness.
What is there in common between Golgotha and the famous canvas I and the Village, painted a year earlier (1911)? Between the scene of the Crucifixion and the playful, parochial mystery? Both a lot and very little, as there is between the suffering and the smile of one and the same person. It is the external appearance of a rebus of a man who has broken with the natural synthesis of the seen, the known and the unseen: that imaginary synthesis in which fairytale, myth and children’s notions of the world in themselves and around themselves fully and harmoniously exist side by side.
Claude Cahun: The Soldier with No Name by Gavin James Bower