Nusch Éluard (born Maria Benzn; 1906 – 1946) was a French performer, model and surrealist artist.
Born in Mulhouse (then part of the German Empire), she met Swiss architect and artist Max Bill in the Odeon Café in Zurich; he nicknamed her “Nusch”, a name she would stick to.
She moved to Paris in 1928 working as a stage performer, variously described as a small-time actress, a traveling acrobat, and a “hypnotist‘s stooge”. in In 1930 she met the poet Paul Éluard working as a model. They married him in 1934. She produced surrealist photomontage and other work, and is the subject of “Facile,” a collection of Éluard’s poetry published as a photogravure book, illustrated with Man Ray’s nude photographs of her.
She was also the subject of several cubist portraits and sketches by Pablo Picasso in the late 1930s, and is said to have had an affair with him. Nusch worked for the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. She died in 1946 in Paris, collapsing in the street due to a massive stroke.
Dora Maar – Nusch Eluard, c. 1935
Nusch Eluard (couchée à plat ventre sur la plage), 1936-37 Photo by Dora Maar ©
Dora Maar, Nusch Eluard, 1935