“An interplanetary voice whose subtle vibrations only faintly pierce our smug-laden atmosphere” wrote Henry Miller of poet and artist MINA LOY (1882-1966). Miller wasn’t alone in his praise; Loy dazzled everyone with her beauty, brilliance and wit. Born in London, she studied art in Munich, moved to Paris in 1903, entered Gertrude Stein’s salon before settling in Florence in 1906. With Carl Van Vechten’s agency, Loy’s first writings appeared in 1914, including “Aphorisms On Futurism” (“OPEN your arms to the dilapidated; rehabilitate them”) for Alfred Steiglitz’s Camera Work; astonishing anti-Futurist and jagged satiric-erotic poems followed. In 1916, Loy moved to New York and met her greatest love, Dadaist anti-hero Arthur Cravan, whom she followed to Mexico in 1918. Forever haunted by Cravan’s disappearance, Loy returned to Paris, where in 1923, Robert McAlmon published her first book, Lost Lunar Baedeker. Years as a designer and gallery agent followed before Loy returned to New York in 1935. There, Loy gradually faded from view. Disinterested in fame, she lived among the Bowery’s broken indigenes, making city poetry (“Hot Cross Bums”) and assemblages (“Christ On A Clothesline,” see below) of startling power before moving to Aspen in 1953. Then revival: In late 1958, at Kenneth Rexroth’s urging — Jonathan Williams published an expanded Lunar Baedeker; that spring, a Marcel Duchamp-curated gallery show of Loy’s art opened in New York. Loy stayed in Colorado, where in 1966, she told the great poet Paul Blackburn, “I’d only written these things for the sake of the sounds.”
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Oscar Levant.
READ MORE about members of the Psychonaut generation (1874-83).