In this photograph, Cahun uses the rock almost like a mask or costume, seemingly animating it with the addition of her arms. The photograph encapsulates both the surrealist elements and the theatrical self-portraits that she is known best for. Although Cahun’s photographs are now some of her best-known works outside of France, she never exhibited them during her lifetime.
I Extend My Arms [Je tends les bras]
FSC Certified paper and wood
Original: Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper 20.4 x 15 cm Tate. Purchased 2007
Claude Cahun ( 1894 – 1954) was a French surrealist photographer, sculptor, writer, and during WWII, a resistance worker and propagandist in Jersey along with her partner, Marcel Moore. Born Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, the artist began using the pseudonym Claude Cahun in 1914, and made work actively challenging conventions of gender and beauty, stating that ‘Neuter is the only gender that always suits me’. Despite being active in the Surrealist Group and participating in many surrealist exhibitions, Cahun’s work did not achieve full recognition until long after her death. A number of Cahun’s photographs form part of the Tate collection.