Claude Cahun Biography

Claude Cahun was a French surrealist photographer, sculptor, and writer who challenged the basic norms of gender stereotypes and questions around sexuality in the early 20th century. She was born with the name Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob who adopted the way she was in 1914. She was best known for being a writer and self-portraitist. Claude has shown some of her work in both political and personal fields. In her autobiography by the name “Disavowals”, she has written “Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neutral is the only gender that suits me” During World War II, she was an active propagandist and a resistant worker too.

Early Life

Claude Cahun was brought up in a Jewish family in 1894 in Nantes. Her relatives belonged to the great art of writing books. Marcel Schwob who was a French symbolist writer known for his best short stories of his time was his uncle and David Leon Cahun who was a famous French traveler and a writer of his time was his great-uncle. Cahun went to a private school named Parsons Mead School situated in Surrey after experiencing anti-Semitism at high school in Nantes. Later, she went to the University of Paris in Sorbonne.

Claude Cahun Career

Cahun was a writer, photographer, and theatre worker. She is mostly remembered because of her work of surrealism that incorporated visual aesthetics and self-portraits. During the 1920s, Cahun made lots of astonishing numbers of self-portraits in the guises such as a doll, vampire, angel, dandy, aviator, and Japanese puppet. Some of her artistry loos included the work like head shaved, elimination of body from the view and revealing only head and shoulders, blurring of gender indicators, and many more.

She portrayed a lot of artistry work in front of the audience which was based on gender presentation. Apart from making self-portraits, Cahun published many write-ups including “Heroines” (1925), Carrefour, 1930, and numerous other essays in magazines and journals. In 1932, she became a part of the association named des Écrivains et Artistes Révolutionnaires following which she was starred in many surrealistic exhibitions including the London International Surrealist Exhibition.

Claude Cahun Biography

Real Name Claude Cahun
Birth Date 25 October 1894
Died Date 8 December 1954
Aged 60 Years
Birth Place Nantes, France
Nationality French
Profession Photographer
Religion Christianity
Sun sign Scorpio

Physical Statistics

Height in feet inches – 5’ 3” – in Centimeters – 160 cm
Weight in Kilograms – 48 kg  –  in Pounds –  105 lbs
Hair Color Black
Eye Color Black
Body Type Slim


Mother Mary-Antoinette Courbebaisse


School Parsons Mead School
College University of Paris

Relationship Status

Marital Status Married
Is she lesbian/gay? Yes
Who was her spouse/partner? Marcel Moore
Children Not Known

Personal Life

It was around 1914 when she started changing her name and began calling herself Claude Cahun. During the early 1920s, she settled in Paris with a lifelong partner and step-sibling named Suzanne Malherbe who was later called Marcel Moore. The two became the step-sibling when Cahun’s biological divorced father and Moore’s biological widowed mother married each other. This happened after Cahun and Moore got involved in a romantic and artistic relationship. For the rest of their life, Cahun and Moore started working on their collaborated projects like written works, sculptures, collages, and photomontages. The pair published many of their articles and novels and befriended Robert Desnos, Henri Michaux, and Pierre Morhange.

Claude Cahun Net Worth

Claude Cahun was one of those personalities who never get into the depth of being a lady. She portrayed herself both in men and women styles and continued to act against sexuality and gender types. In the society of the 20th century when people had no words about changing their gender types, talking about sexuality, and when men were considered to be and women were considered to be women; Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob called herself to be Claude Cahun. She chose the name because this could be referred to both men and women. Decades after her death, she got the recognition to be called in the work of historians, artists, bisexuals, gays, transgender, and queer community.


  • Around 1922, Cahun and Moorie together held the artists’ salon at their home and the attendees who used to be there were artists like Henri Michaux and André Breton and literary entrepreneurs like Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier.
  • Seeing her work, many writers and scholars like Miranda Welby-Everard have mentioned her stating the importance of theatre, costumes, and performances that were mainly carried by Cahun and that varied from different gender types.
  • She started making photographic portraits while being at the age of eighteen in 1912.
  • She continued taking pictures of her through the 1930s.
  • At the time when Cahun was four years old, her mother Mary-Antoinette Courbebaisse became mentally unstable.
  • Due to her mother’s illness, she was sent to a psychiatrist for permanent internment. In her absence, Cahun was brought by her grandmother named Mathilde.

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