Skip to Content

The museum is closed today. View our hours.

Object

Three-dimensional piece featuring a large eyeball, oriented sideways, on a wooden pin set in a flat piece of yellow wood at upper right, cursive writing in French on the wood. Strands of curly hair and the wooden cutout of a cloud are affixed to the eyeball. Affixed to the wood, at lower left, is a tiny light-skinned hand with fingers reaching upward.

Image actions

  • Three-dimensional piece featuring a large eyeball, oriented sideways, on a wooden pin set in a flat piece of yellow wood at upper right, cursive writing in French on the wood. Strands of curly hair and the wooden cutout of a cloud are affixed to the eyeball. Affixed to the wood, at lower left, is a tiny light-skinned hand with fingers reaching upward.

Date:

1936

Artist:

Claude Cahun
French, 1894–1954

About this artwork

Claude Cahun, born Lucy Schwob, was closely associated with the Paris Surrealists of the 1930s. Attracted to the group’s desire to transform society through the exploration of the unconscious, she challenged traditional ideas about gender and sexuality through her intimate photographic self-portraits, collages, and sculptures. For Object, Cahun altered a number of seemingly unrelated components—a doll’s hand, a cloud-shaped piece of wood, and a tennis ball painted with a wide-open eye—to produce a startling psychological resonance. The eye, in particular, a key Surrealist symbol of inner perception, also suggests female anatomy. On the base of the work, Cahun added the French phrase, “The Marseillaise is a revolutionary song, the law punishes counterfeiters with forced labor.” Much like the rest of the work, the inscription is a juxtaposition of disparate elements: the first, a well-known slogan from France’s antifascist coalition, the left-wing Popular Front, and the other, a phrase from Belgian currency. In combining these phrases, Cahun seems to point an accusatory finger at the supposed “revolutionary” leaders of France—a rare direct reference to politics in a Surrealist artwork. Her assemblages were typically ephemeral and made to be photographed; Object is the only sculptural work by the artist known to still exist in its original form.

Status

On View, Gallery 396

Department

Modern Art

Artist

Claude Cahun

Title

Object

Origin

Paris

Date

1936

Medium

Wood and paint with tennis ball, hair, and found objects

Inscriptions

Not signed, inscribed on base: La Marseillaise est un chant révolutionnaire, la loi punit le contrefaiteur des travaux forcés

Dimensions

5 3/8 × 6 3/8 × 4 in. (13.7 × 10.7 × 16 cm)

Credit Line

Through prior gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman

Reference Number

2007.30

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share