Below are two images that have always fascinated me, the first is of the surrealist artist Claude Cahun and the second is the fantastic painting by Otto Dix of Anita Berber. If was not for this painting, Berber would be largely unknown today...
Two remarkable women, way ahead of their time...
Claude Cahun was the artist pseudonym for Lucy Schwob who lived in Jersey with her stepsister Suzanne Malherbe (artist pseudonym Marcel Moore) from 1937 until her death in 1954. Cahun was a writer and photographer who produced provoking self-portraits often using costumes or masks as a way of exploring her identity. Her images are enigmatic and can be described as rash and subtle, inviting and rejecting, sexual and asexual.
Anita Berber was a notorious actor/dancer/poet/playwright who scandalized sex-obsessed Weimar Berlin during the 1920s. In an era where everything was permitted, Anita Berber's celebrations of "Depravity, Horror and Ecstasy" were condemned and censored. She often haunted Weimar Berlin's hotel lobbies, nightclubs and casinos, radiantly naked except for an elegant sable wrap, a pet monkey hanging from her neck, and a silver brooch packed with cocaine. Multi-talented Anita saw no boundaries between her personal life and her taboo-shattering performances. As such, she was Europe's first postmodern woman.
Books worth picking up:
The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber: Weimar Berlin's Priestess of Decadence.
Glitter and Doom: German portraits from the 1920s
Don't Kiss Me: The Art Of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore
Thanks to e-l-i-s-e for reminding me of the Dix painting-