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Loy, Mina (1882-1966)
by Scholes, Robert


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Mina Loy (1882-1966)

The following three paragraphs are quoted from the sketch of Mina Loy provided on line by the Beinecke Library at Yale. They were written by Karen V. Peltier in 1987. Copyright is held by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Mina Loy, the eldest daughter of Sigmund and Julian Bryant Lowry, was born in London. She went to Munich in 1899 to study art with Angelo Jank and during this time shortened her name from Mina Gertrude Lowry to Mina Loy. In 1901-1902 she studied painting in England with Augustus John and met Stephen Haweis, whom she married in Paris on December 31, 1903. The couple lived and painted in Paris for the next three years and frequented the salon of Gertrude Stein. They moved to Florence in 1906, but their marriage collapsed in 1913 and Haweis left for Australia and the South Seas. At about the same time Loy probably had affairs with Filippo Marinetti and Giovanni Papini and her poetry, which reflected her interest in the Futurists, first began to appear in print. Loy came to New York in 1916, worked in a lampshade studio, acted in the Provincetown Theatre, and associated with the poets who published inOthers. In New York City she met Arthur Cravan, whom she married in Mexico City in 1918 after obtaining a divorce from Haweis. Soon thereafter Cravan disappeared in Mexico and his body was later found in the desert.

When Loy returned to Paris in 1923, Robert McAlmon published Lunar Baedecker, which assured her a place among such modernist contemporary writers as Marianne Moore, Williams Carlos Williams, and T. S. Eliot. As the widow of poet-boxer Cravan, she maintained contact with the Dadaists and Surrealists, who saw Cravan as a hero. She continued her friendships with Marcel Duchamp, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes and her agent Carl Van Vechten, and met many of the expatriates residing in Paris, including James Joyce and Constantin Brancusi. Although her literary career was at its height, she continued to support her family through the design and manufacture of lampshades for the shop that she opened with the financial backing of Peggy Guggenheim. "Anglo-Mongrels and the Rose," a semi-autobiographical poem about Loy's Victorian upbringing, was published in two issues of the Little Review (1923) and in McAlmon's The Contact Collection of Contemporary Writers (1925). She also wrote several parallel autobiographical prose narratives on the same theme that were never published. Loy continued to paint in the 1930s, exhibiting her monochrome sand paintings in New York, and worked on another unpublished novel, "Insel."

In 1936 she moved to New York City where she remained for nearly twenty years, writing poetry and creating collages out of materials she found in back alleys and trash cans. In 1958 her poetry was republished in Lunar Baedeker & Time-Tables; the following year she received the Copley Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Art and exhibited her "Constructions" at the Bodley Gallery. She died in Aspen, Colorado on September 29, 1966 after a short illness.

Actually, Loy met Haweis at the Académie Colarossi in Paris, where they were both art students. Her visual art was noticed (but not favorably) in a review of a show at the Carfax Gallery in London in October, 1912, by Anthony Ludovici in The New Age (NA 11.25:596), where she is referred to as "Mrs. Stephen Haweis." She is much better known, now, as a writer than as a visual artist, but she was a multi-talented person. Her novel,Insel has been published. She is getting, at last, the attention she deserves.

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