Monday, August 16, 2010

Precursor of Lady Gaga?

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhaven (1874-1927) was an obscure Dada poet-artist who finally emerged into the mainstream after 80 years. She had her first gallery exhibition at Francis M. Naumann in 2003, with five of her remaining eight existing works on view. A biography by Irene Gammel was published, examining the baroness's iconoclastic writings and filling us in on all the salacious details of her wild and remarkable life.

She single-handedly presented futuristic fashion to the bohemians of Greenwich Village, scandalizing her neighbors by parading semi-nude along 14th Street, barely covered with feathers....Courageous to an insane degree, Elsa was able to provoke and challenge everyone. She recited her poetry on the street, to passers-by, wearing nothing but tea-balls on her breasts. She was feared and admired in verse by the likes of Ezra Pound, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens and Djuna Barnes. Elsa's death by gas in 1927 at her home in Paris left her friends wondering if it was an accident or suicide.

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (German, 1874-1927). Cathedral, 1918

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (German, 1874-1927). Limbswish, ca. 1917-1918


  1. never heard of her. while i tend to not be interested in artists who are overboard in their outward appearances...i DO like her sculptures, thanks for turning me onto these!

  2. I had never heard of her either, but I liked her name(!) as well as her assemblages, too bad there aren't very many. If she had been a man, we would certainly have heard of her. I used to live near Ojai which is Beatrice Wood country, so that got me interested in the Dada movement. Plus I love Man Ray!

    I know what you mean about artists whose appearances and behaviors are over the top--Dali for instance. I find him annoying.

  3. Thanks for introducing her to me. The original found object artist?

  4. Glad you appreciate the Baroness, Don! I really like her minimalistic approach concerning found objects.