Mina-LoyMina Loy


Artist. Writer. Entrepreneur.


She consorted with the major 20th-century avant-garde movements—
Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism—
yet was wedded to none.

She moved among the metropolitan centers of modernism—
London, Paris, Florence, New York, and Berlin—
yet rarely felt at home.

She wrote poems, plays, and experimental prose;
created drawings, paintings, sculptures, and assemblages;
designed lampshades, toys, Christmas lights, cleaning tools, and corselets.

Born in London in 1882, Mina Gertrude Lowy was the child of an English, Protestant mother and a Hungarian, Jewish father. She was raised with two sisters in a Victorian household that aspired to middle-class respectability.

Mina, the first-born, was the problem child. Imaginative and precocious, she was prone to inventing colorful stories and drawings—and disinclined to proper feminine decorum. She was sent to art school: first in London, then Munich, then Paris.

In Paris, Loy met fellow artist Stephen Haweis, who was attracted to her beauty and intelligence. Though her feelings toward him were deeply ambivalent, she married him in 1903 out of necessity. Their daughter, Oda Janet, was born 1904 (five months after the wedding). That same year, Loy exhibited six watercolors at the prestigious Salon d’Automne under the self-styled name, Mina Loy.

Just as her career began to take off, her personal life crashed. Oda died of meningitis in 1905, Loy’s marriage felt apart, and she was plagued by grief, self-doubt, and neurasthenia, which today would be diagnosed as depression. When Loy became pregnant by the doctor who treated her, Stephen agreed to claim paternity if she moved with him to Florence. Divorce was financially impossible, socially unacceptable, and legally very difficult, so Loy complied, and the couple moved to Florence in 1907.

While in Italy, Loy had two more children but grew more estranged from Haweis. Meanwhile, she developed sustaining friendships with Mabel Dodge Luhan, Gertrude Stein, Carl Van Vechten, and her ward and artistic protégé, Frances Simpson Stevens, who introduced her to the Italian Futurists in 1913.

In 1914, Loy became involved in love affairs with F. T. Marinetti and Giovanni Papini. She also embarked on a literary career, publishing her first poems, manifestos, and plays in various American and European little magazines.

When her affairs with the Italian Futurists ended, Loy served briefly as a nurse for the Italian Red Cross during World War I. In 1917, she left her children with their Italian nursemaid and sailed to New York, determined to reinvent herself as an artist.

In New York, Loy found artistic compatriots in the avant-garde circle that gravitated around Walter and Louise Arensburg. She met Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Beatrice Webb, and the love of her live, Arthur Cravan—a boxer, Dada poet, and nephew of Oscar Wilde.

Loy secured a divorce from Haweis in 1917. The next year, she and Cravan sailed to Mexico so that he could escape the draft, and they got married there. Loy became pregnant, and they set off for Argentina on separate boats. Cravan never made it: his sailboat disappeared off the coast of Mexico, and he was never heard from again.

Heartbroken, Loy returned to London and delivered her fourth child, Jemima Fabienne Cravan Lloyd. She then resumed her transatlantic migrations, moving to Geneva, to Florence, to New York, back to Florence, and then to Paris, where she resided from 1921-1936, running a lamp shop funded by Peggy Guggenheim and then acting as an purchasing agent for her son-in-law Julian Levy’s art gallery in New York, serving as a key figure in Surrealism’s New York reception. In 1933, she befriended the Surrealist painter Richard Oelze and drew upon their relationship for her novel, Insel.

Loy returned to New York in 1936, where she interacted with Joseph Cornell, Kenneth Rexroth, Djuna Barnes, and Charles Henri Ford. She became an American citizen in 1946 and moved to the Bowery in 1949, living in a communal household and creating artistic assemblages from local refuse and found objects.

In 1953, she moved to Aspen, Colorado, to be near her daughters. She died there in 1966.

In her lifetime, Loy published two books, Lunar Baedecker [sic] in 1923 and Lunar Baedeker and Time Tables in 1958, as well as dozens of poems, plays, and essays in little magazines. In addition to exhibiting art at the Salon d’Automne and Salon des Beaux-Arts in Paris and Carfax Gallery in London early in her career, she showed Surrealist paintings in Julian Levy’s New York gallery in 1933 and “Constructions” at an exhibit curated by Marcel Duchamp at the Bodley Gallery in New York in 1959.

Today, many of Mina Loy’s creations remain unpublished, undated, lost, or in private collections, making her career as difficult to chart as it is fascinating to follow.

  • Carolyn Burke. Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy.  New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996.
  • “Mina Loy Chronology.” The Salt Companion to Mina Loy. Eds. Rachel Potter and Suzanne Hobson. London: Salt Publishing, 2010. 12-15.
  • “Time-Table.” Mina Loy. The Last Lunar Baedeker. Ed. Roger L. Conover. Highlands, NC: The Jargon Society, 1982. lxiii-lxxix.

Loy’s Artistic and Social Network

Lepers of the moon
all magically diseased
we come among you
of our luminous sores

– Mina Loy, “Apology of Genius”

These short biographies of figures in Loy’s artistic and social network in Florence, New York, and Paris were written by undergraduate and graduate students at Davidson College, Duquesne University, and the University of Georgia. Students participated in cross-institutional peer critique, and final editing was completed by graduate students at Duquesne University, who worked closely with the faculty editors of this site. Visit our project blog to read more about the Biography project or see the Bio Project Assignment.

Duquesne University

  • Jillian Bennion
    Bio: Alfred Stieglitz
  • Nichole Brazelton
    Bio: Rachel Blau Du Plessis
  • Brett Dipuma
    Bio: Dorothy Day
  • Courtney Druzak
    Bio: Janet Flanner
  • Kenneth Estrada
    Bio: F. T. Marinetti, Thomas Merton
  • Rochel L. Gasson
    Bios: Walter Conrad Arensberg, Kathleen Fraser, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound
  • John Hadlock
    Bio: Denise Levertov
  • Caitlyn Hunter
    Bio: Glenway Wescott
  • Jesse Jack
    Bio: Neith Boyce
  • Taylor Maldonado
    Bios: Ford Madox Ford, Richard Oelze
  • Jill Moliterno
    Bio: Hermine David
  • Hannah Muczynski
    Bios: T.S. Eliot, Stephen Haweis
  • Josie Rush
    Bio: Thelma Wood
  • Anna Samuels
    Bio: Elsa Schiaparelli
  • Molly Sharbaugh
    Bio: Joseph Stella

University of Georgia

  • Amy Bonnaffons
    Bio: Joseph Cornell
  • Tyler Cain
    Bio: Tristan Tzara
  • Nathan Dixon
    Bio: Mary Baker Eddy
  • Cole Donovan
    Bio: Eugene Jolas
  • Ragan Foley
    Bio: Peggy Guggenheim
  • Corinn Gurak
    Bio: Djuna Barnes
  • Genevieve Guzman
    Bios: Berenice Abbott, Arthus Cravan, Nancy Cunard, Marcel Duchamp, Isadora Duncan, Robert McAlmon
  • Marianna Hagler
    Bio: Man Ray
  • Tim Heines
    Bio: Max Ernst
  • Kaitlin Hocker
    Bio: Luis Bunuel
  • Matthew Kliewer
    Bio: Charles Henri Ford
  • Kara Krewer
    Bio: Giovanni Papini
  • Sherry Luo
    Bio: Gertrude Stein
  • Mike McClelland
    Bio: Jean Cocteau
  • Emmy Murphy
    Bio: Fernand Leger
  • Kensie Poor
    Bio: Williams Carlos Williams
  • Samantha Regal
    Bio: Lee Miller
  • Sidonia Serafini
    Bio: Jane Heap
  • Sarah Shermyen
    Bio: Beatrice Wood
  • Michelle Sherwin
    Bio: Katherine Dreier
  • Hannah Sikes
    Bio: Natalie Barney
  • Harley Spears
    Bio: Jules Pascin
  • Naomi Stamps
    Bio: Julien Levy
  • Katie Tucker
    Bio: Constantin Brancusi
  • Marquis Waiters
    Bio: Andre Breton
  • Other student contributors
    Bios: Sylvia Beach, Basil Bunting, James Joyce

Davidson College

  • Meredith Foulke
    Bio: Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loinghoven
  • Sarah Gompper
    Bio: Frances Simpson Stevens
  • Leigha Nortier
    Bio: Francis Picabia
  • Grady Pearson
    Bio: Carl Van Vechten
  • Erin Piemont
    Bio: Mabel Dodge Luhan
  • Danielle Rifkin
    Bio: Alfred Kreymborg
  • Bean Rodriguez
    Bio: Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia
  • Maura Tangum
    Bio: Clara Tice


Walker Evans portrait of Berenice Abbott. Circa 1930.Credit Berenice Abbott Archive, Ryerson Image Center. Ronald Kurtz, administered by Commerce Graphics Ltd.

Berenice Abbott

July 17, 1898
December 9, 1991
Noted twentieth century photographer, Berenice Abbott was born on July 17, 1898 in Springfield, Ohio, to Charles E. Abbott and ...
black and white passport photograph of "Walter Arensberg"

Walter Conrad Arensberg

April 4, 1878
January 29, 1954
Walter Conrad Arensberg intermingled with and befriended some of the most important artists of the 20th century. He and his ...
Djuna Barnes

Djuna Barnes

June 12, 1892
June 19, 1982
Djuna was born to Wald Barnes and Elizabeth Chappell on June 12 in 1892 in Cornwall-on Hudson in New York ...
black and white portrait photograph of Natalie Barney

Natalie Barney

October 31, 1876
February 2, 1972
Natalie Clifford Barney was born on October 31st, 1876, to Albert and Alice Barney. Her father was heir to a ...
At her bookshop, Shakespeare and Company

Sylvia Beach

March 14, 1887
October 5, 1962
Sylvia Beach was born in Princeton, NJ in 1887, relocating to Europe when as a volunteer with the Red Cross ...
black and white photograph of Neith Boyce

Neith Boyce

March 21, 1872
December 2, 1951
Boyce (1872-1951) was the second of five children, all of whom perished in an influenza epidemic when she was six ...
Constantin Brancusi

Constantin Brancusi

February 21, 1876
March 16, 1957
Constantin Brancusi was born on February 19, 1876 in the rural village of Hobița, Romania. During childhood, he developed a ...
André Breton

André Breton

February 19, 1896
September 28, 1966
Andre Breton was born in 1896 in Tinchebray, France. He attended medical school at the Faculté de Médecine in Paris ...
French art critic and writer of the dada movement

Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia

Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia might be the most quoted witness of the Dada movement, yet she is one of the least studied ...
black and white photograph of Basil Bunting

Basil Bunting

March 1, 1900
April 17, 1985
Basil Bunting was born March 1, 1900 in Scotswood-on-Tyne, Northumberland. He spent his formative years studying at two Quaker schools, ...
black and white photograph of Luis Bunuel (Portoles)

Luis Buñuel (Portolés)

February 22, 1900
July 29, 1983
Born on February 22, 1900 to Leonardo Buñuel and María Portolés, Luis Buñuel was raised in Calanda, Spain where he ...
Black and white portrait photograph of Jean Cocteau c.1923

Jean Cocteau

July 5, 1889
October 11, 1963
Jean Cocteau was born in Maisons-Laffitte, a horse-riding hub 12 miles outside of Paris as the third child of Georges ...
Cornell in 1971

Joseph Cornell

December 24, 1903
December 29, 1972
Joseph Cornell was born in 1903 in Nyack, NY, the oldest of four siblings. After his father died of leukemia in ...
Arthur Cravan, Paris, circa 1910.

Arthur Cravan

May 22, 1887
Presumed lost at sea, November 1918
Often referred to as the, enfant terrible, Arthur Cravan was born Fabian Avenarius Lloyd on May 22, 1887 in Laussanne, ...
The iconic portrait of Nancy Cunard, 1925, photographed by Man Ray © Man Ray Trust

Nancy Cunard

March 10, 1896
March 16, 1965
English heiress to the Cunard Steamship Company, Nancy Clara Cunard was born in the English midlands. The only child of ...
black and white photo of Hermine David

Hermine David

April 19, 1886
December 1, 1970
Often diminished to a footnote in the life of her husband, the painter Jules Pascin, Hermine David was an artist ...
Dorothy Day c.1916

Dorothy Day

November 8, 1897
November, 29 1980
Founder of the Catholic Worker, Dorothy May Day was born to John and Grace Day at their house on 71 ...
Mabel Dodge Luhan wearing turban in yoga pose, circa 1915

Mabel Dodge

February 26, 1879
August 13, 1962
A wealthy American patron of the twentieth-century arts movement, Mabel Evan Dodge Sterne Luhan (Mabel Dodge) hosted modernist salons in ...
Katherine S. Dreier standing on stool with palette in from of mural at Saint Paul's School in New York

Katherine Sophie Dreier

September 10, 1877
March 29, 1952
A prominent artist, lecturer, and art patron, Katherine Dreier was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1877 to German-immigrant parents ...
Marcel Duchamp (With Pipe) - Photo by John D. Schiff

Marcel Duchamp

July 28, 1887
October 2, 1968
A Dada pioneer and the most controversial of modern artists, Marcel Duchamp was born one of six siblings on July ...
Black and white portrait photograph of Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan

May 26, 1877
September 14, 1927
A founder of modern dance and proponent of women’s freedoms, Isadora Duncan was born in 1877, the youngest of four ...
black and white portrait photograph of Mary Baker Eddy

Mary Baker Eddy

July 16, 1821
December 3, 1910
In his excoriating book on Christian Science, Mark Twain surprisingly paints its founder Mary Baker Eddy as “the most interesting ...
Photo Credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt / LIFE

T.S. Eliot

September 26, 1888
January 04, 1965 Place of Death
One of the most influential intellects of the 20th century, Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot was born on September 26, 1888 ...
Max Ernst in uniform, c. 1914–1918

Max Ernst

April 2, 1891
April 1, 1976
One of the 20th century’s most influential artists, Max Ernst left his mark on modernism by contributing to the establishment ...
black and white photograph of Janet Flanner

Janet Flanner

March 13, 1892
November 7, 1978
Janet Flanner, who decried the personal “I,” was a technically skilled writer who found diagramming sentences and Parisian newspapers influential ...
Charles Henry Ford: writer, artist, and editor

Charles Henri Ford

February 10, 1908
September 27, 2002
Charles Henri Ford’s emergence onto the modernist literary scene began in 1929 when Ford started publishing the little magazine, Blues: ...
black and white photograph of Kathleen Fraser

Kathleen Fraser

March 22, 1935
February 5, 2019
A contemporary American poet, writer, and visual artist, Kathleen Fraser was born in 1935, in Oklahoma, and raised in Colorado ...
Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven in costume

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Known as the “Mother of Dada,” the Baroness was an emblematic and distinctive figure on the New York art scene ...
black and white photograph of Peggy Guggenheim

Peggy Guggenheim

August 26, 1898
December 23, 1979
Peggy Guggenheim was born on August 26, 1898 to Florette Seligman and Benjamin Guggenheim in New York City. In 1920 ...
black and white photograph of Stephen Haweis c.1923

Stephen Haweis

July 23rd, 1878
Born in London, England on July 23rd, 1878, Stephen Hugh Willyams Haweis was the youngest of three children. His parents, ...
Jane Heap, Mina Loy, and Ezra Pound standing on sidewalk

Jane Heap

November 1, 1883
June 18, 1964
“Jane was her name and Jane her station,” wrote Gertrude Stein in a brief but complimentary consideration of American editor, ...
black and white photograph of Eugene Jolas

Eugene Jolas

October 26, 1894
May 26, 1952
Eugene Jolas was born on October 26, 1894 in Union Hill, New Jersey to parents Eugene Pierre and Christine Jolas ...
James Joyce

James Joyce

February 2, 1882
January 13, 1941
Regarded as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century, James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born in Dublin, ...
Alfred Kremyborg

Alfred Kreymborg

August 14, 1966
Although relatively unknown, Alfred Kreymborg was an influential magazine editor, poet, playwright, literary historian, and node in the networks of ...
Fernand Léger, c. 1916

Fernand Léger

February 4, 1881
August 17, 1955
Fernand Léger was a notable French artist and filmmaker during the first half of the twentieth century. A Cubist painter, ...
Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov

Though born in Essex, England, Denise Levertov remains an influential poet of the mid-twentieth century American group known as the ...
From the Harvard Art Museum Collection

Julien Levy

January 22, 1906
February 10, 1981
Julien Levy was born in 1906 in New York to Edgar Levy and Isabelle Isaacs. He attended Harvard University where ...
black and white portrait photograph of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti

Filipo Tomasso Marinetti

December 27, 1876
December 2, 1944
Filipo Tomasso Marinetti (born Emilio Angelo Carlo in Alexandria, Egypt in 1876), the face and founder of Futurism, was the ...
Robert McAlmon, Image courtesy Clark Art Institute.

Robert McAlmon

March 9, 1895 (some sources say 1896)
February 2, 1956
Charming and ornery Robert McAlmon was born the last of eight surviving children to an itinerant Presbyterian minister. Raised in ...
Black and white photograph of group of female war correspondents

Lee Miller

April 23, 1907
July 21, 1977
Photographer and model Lee Miller, née Elizabeth, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York in April of 1907 to Theodore and ...
Moore in her tricorn hat and cape

Marianne Craig Moore

November 15, 1887
February 5, 1972
The daughter of John Milton Moore and Mary Warner, Marianne Craig Moore was born in Kirkwood, Missouri in 1887. Although ...
Richard Oelze

Richard Oelze

June 29, 1900
November 26, 1980
Surrealist painter Richard Oelze, born June 29th, 1900 in Magdeburg, Germany to a conservative and well-disciplined family, proved to be ...
Foto giovanile di Papini nel decennio 1910-1920.

Giovanni Papini

January 9, 1881
July 8, 1956
Giovanni Papini was born in 1881 in Florence. From an early age he was a voracious reader of the classics, ...
Jules Pascin (1885 - 1930)

Jules Pascin

March 31, 1885
June 1, 1930
Jules Pascin, named Julius Pincas at birth, was born in Bulgaria on March 31, 1885. Pascin had Italian/Serbian and Spanish/Jewish ...
Francis Picabia

Francis Picabia

January 22nd, 1879
Alongside Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia is one of the founding names in Cubism and Dada. With regards to Dada in ...
Ezra Pound, ca. 1913.

Ezra Pound

October 30, 1885
November 1, 1972
Born in Idaho and raised in Pennsylvania, Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (Ezra Pound) is a considered the father of imagism ...
Man Ray 1965

Man Ray

August 27, 1890
November 18, 1976
Man Ray was born Emanuel Radnitsky to Russian Jewish immigrants in 1890. In his youth, his parents moved from the ...
black and white photograph of Elsa Schiaparelli c.1937

Elsa Schiaparelli

September 10, 1890
November 13, 1973
Born on September 10, 1890 to Maria-Luisa and Celestino Schiaparelli, Elsa Schiaparelli grew up in Rome and moved to London ...
Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein from their literary archive at Beinecke Library

Gertrude Stein

February 3, 1874
July 27, 1946
Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Gertrude Stein is one of the most prominent figures in American literature. She developed a taste ...
black and white photograph of Man Ray, Joseph Stella, and Marcel Duchamp c.1920

Joseph Stella

June 13, 1877
November 5, 1946
One of the first leaders of Futurism in America, and a contributor to American Modernism, Joseph Stella was born in ...
black and white portrait photograph of Francis Simpson Stevens

Frances Simpson Stevens

March 5, 1894
July 18, 1976
In her early 20s, Frances Simpson Stevens was the lone American at the center of the Futurist movement ...
black and white portrait photograph of Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz

January 1, 1864
July 13, 1946
Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, Alfred Stieglitz made a career as a photographer and gallery owner in New York. His ...
black and white portrait photograph of Clara Tice with dog

Clara Tice

May 22, 1888
February 2, 1973
Clara Tice is known as the “Queen of Greenwich Village” due to the role her erotic and revolutionary illustrations played ...
Tristan Tzara:

Tristan Tzara

April 16, 1896
December 15, 1963
Tristan Tzara (Samuel Rosenstock/Rosenstein, also known as S. Samyro), is a Romanian-born playwright, poet, and an editor of magazines such ...
black and white portrait photograph of Carl Van Vechten

Carl Van Vechten

June 17, 1880
December 21, 1964
Carl Van Vechten is known as a writer, photographer, and patron of some of the most influential figures of the ...
black and white photograph of Glenway Wescott

Glenway Wescott

April 11, 1901
February 22, 1987
Born in 1901 in Kewaskum Wisconsin, Glenway Wescott was the eldest of six children. Wescott left home in 1914 and ...
William Carlos Williams passport photograph c.1921

William Carlos Williams

September 17, 1883
March 4, 1963
William Carlos Williams was born in 1883 to an English father and a Puerto Rican mother in Rutherford, New Jersey ...
black and white photograph of Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, and Beatrice Wood taken at the Broadway Photo Shop in New York City c.1917

Beatrice Wood

March 3, 1893
March 12, 1998
Born into a Victorian family, Beatrice Wood struggled to free herself from her mother's desire to "turn [her] into a ...
black and white photograph of Thelma Wood

Thelma Wood

July 3, 1901
December 10, 1970
Thelma Ellen Wood was born in Kansas on July 3, 1901 to Maud and William Wood. She was one of ...