Loy has been omitted from the prevailing theories and histories of the avant-garde, and much of her work remains unpublished and inaccessible. The essays published on this site chart Loy’s avant-garde, genre, and geographic migrations between 1914 and 1950, focusing on her least studied works—Futurist plays, Dada prose, and Surrealist fiction and paintings—in order to understand her relationships to various avant-garde movements and trace her own evolving theory of the avant-garde.
As Cristanne Miller observes, Loy “swings between affiliations with groups just as she changes genres of artistic production and cities of residence” (72). Location matters, because “early in the twentieth century, local and national infrastructures governing women’s lives varied extremely from place to place” (1). In the 1910s, women’s access to the public sphere—and thereby to audiences for their literary and artistic output—differed in Italy, where it was more restricted, and the U.S., where the modern woman was stepping out in time with the rapid rise of mass commercial culture.
Loy’s navigation from Futurism to Dada and Surrealism provides a vantage point from which to assess how receptive these avant-garde movements were to women, and how they positioned themselves in relationship to the various publics they courted and derided.