Surrealist Women: Mina Loy


Mina Loy
The Forrest Gump of the international avant-garde, Mina Loy had the unerring knack of being in the right place at just the right time. Born in London in 1882 to an Hungarian Jewish father and an English Protestant mother Loy caught the tail-end of the fin-de-siecle in Jugendstil infatuated Munich in 1899. She moved to Paris in 1903 and entered the circle of writers and artists centred around Gertrude Stein. 1907 saw her de-camping to Florence where she spouted Futurist aphorisms with Marinetti and his cohorts. 1916 saw Loy sail for New York where she promptly made the acquaintance of Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray.

It was in New York that she met and fell in love with the love of her life, the heavyweight champion of the Dada-verse and nephew of Oscar Wilde, the poet-boxer Arthur Cravan. They were married in Mexico City in 1918. Afterwards they intended to move to Argentina; however lack of funds and the fact that Loy was pregnant with Cravan’s child meant that only Loy took the commercial liner while Cravan set off in a small sail boat with the intention that they would met again in Buenos Aires. Cravan was never seen or heard of again; presumably the boat capsized and he drowned in the Pacific, however his disappearance has led to some wild and improbable theories, my favourite being that Arthur Cravan became the mysteriously reclusive, anarchist novelist B.Traven, famous for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre that was made into a film of the same name by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart.

The twenties saw Loy in the thick of modernist Paris. She published her collection of poems Lunar Baedeker and with the backing of Peggy Guggenheim opened a shop selling decorated lamp-shades. In 1933 she begin her close friendship with the German Surrealist Richard Oelze (see The Expectation) which resulted in her posthumously published Surrealist novel Insel, with its insightful (though disguised) portraits of Andre Breton, Max Ernst and Salvador Dali. Loy states that there is something ‘fundamentally black-magicky about the surrealists.’

Loy moved to America in 1936, this time for good. She settled in the Bowery district of New York City which was soon to become the world’s art capital. Here she made collages out of the rubbish she collected around her home and be-friended the shy Surrealist artist of Utopia Parkway, Joseph Cornell.

30 thoughts on “Surrealist Women: Mina Loy

  1. Mr. Cake, a lovely post on Mina Loy. Why do I find this post so familiar? Why do I believe we had a conversation about B.Traven? Why do I recall you saying that Arthur Cravan was in no way the reclusive B. Traven? Loy’s collages are fantastic, let me not forget to mention how stunning she was. Fun and informative post, as always. ~ Miss Cranes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Miss Cranes, you probably have a feeling of deja vu because at some point we most definitely did discuss all the above as this is another resurrected post from the past. Mina was stunning and certainly had a knack for being at the right place at the right time. I am glad you enjoyed. Mr Cake

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  2. Oh wow, never heard from again? That would drive me mad! I don’t know if I’d recover from that. I’m glad she went on to do good things.

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    1. Thank you Vic she certainly had an eventful life. Arthur Craven’s disappearance is certainly a mystery that will probably never be solved. It did take her a time to recover, understandably so. Glad you enjoyed. Mr Cake

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    1. Thank you Christine I am glad you enjoyed, maybe it could be argued that Mina wasn’t a technically a Surrealist and was more of a Modernist but she was connected to the movement and her novel is definitely surrealistic. As a whole the movement had a lot of women involved at some stage or another so the series is intended to reflect that, hopefully I do them justice!

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  3. It is my hope that Mr. Craven did find inspiration by reinventing himself as another. Many of the greatest writers do, whether it makes the news or not…the only part I would have changed was his allowing her to do the same alongside. Maybe I’m just in love with Bonnie and Clyde. I read along with hopes he had a familiar pipe smoke about not just anyone would recognize. Thank you for this, Mr. Cake

    Liked by 1 person

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