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    Sale 2106


    14 October 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 250

    CLAUDE CAHUN (1894-1954)

    Untitled (Surrealist hands), 1939

    Price Realised  


    CLAUDE CAHUN (1894-1954)
    Untitled (Surrealist hands), 1939
    gelatin silver print
    annotated, dated 'Un monstre hors de jeu, une île de miroirs... Claude' in ink and partial credit label affixed (on the verso)
    9 5/8 x 7½in. (24.5 x 19.1cm.)

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    Hands are a frequent motif in the surrealist compositions of Claude Cahun. She often accompanied her photographs by poetic texts. On the reverse of this print she wrote: 'Un monstre hors de jeu, une île de miroirs' (A monster out of the game, an island of mirrors). On another print from the same negative in the collection of the Pompidou Centre in Paris she wrote: 'Celui-là, méconnaissable moi qui s'aventure plus loin vers la métamorphose, progresse dans la nuit... C.C. 1954' (That one, unrecognizable me who ventures further toward the metamorphosis, progressing into the night). She wrote this during the last days of her life in 1954. She was ill and knew she would not live much longer. It is tempting to speculate that she chose to reveal how she saw her place in the world in these brief texts on the back of this image. The year after she wrote the text on the present lot she moved to the isle of Jersey where she was imprisoned by the Nazis for her activities as a member of the Resistance. In addition to this print and the one at the Pompidou Centre, only one or possibly two prints are known to exist in private collections.

    The natural orientation of the image would be with the hands pointing down (see fig.) but the placement of the text and label on the verso suggest the opposite orientation which is corroborated by the Pompidou Centre print.


    From the artist;
    by bequest to the present owner


    Leperlier, ed., Claude Cahun: Photographe, Paris Musées Jean-Michel Place, 1995, cat. no. 139, pp. 109, 149; Sayag, ed., Collection de Photographies du Musée National d'Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1996, p. 136; Ander and Snauwaert, eds., Claude Cahun: Bilder, Schirmer/Mosel, 1997, cat. no. 139, pp. 82-125; Downie, ed., Don't Kiss Me: The Art of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, Aperture Jersey Heritage Trust, 2006, p. 189, variants