World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Baroness Elsa

 

Baroness Elsa

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
Birth name Else Hildegard Plötz
Born 12 July 1874
Swinemünde, Province of Pomerania, German Empire
Died 15 December 1927(1927-12-15) (aged 53)
Paris, France
Spouse August Endell
Field Poetry, sound poetry
Movement Dada, avant-garde
Works Body Sweats

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (sometimes also called Else von Freytag-von Loringhoven) (12 July 1874 – 15 December 1927) was a German-born avant-garde, Dadaist artist and poet who worked for several years in Greenwich Village, New York City, United States. Her provocative poetry was published posthumously in 2011 in Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.[1] The New York Times praised the book as one of the notable art books of 2011.[2]

Early life

Freytag-Loringhoven was born Else Hildegard Plötz in Swinemünde (Świnoujście), in Pomerania, Germany to Adolf Plötz and Ida Marie Kleist. Her father, a mason, physically and verbally abused her in her childhood. She trained and worked as an actress and vaudeville performer and had numerous affairs with artists in Berlin, Munich and Italy.

She studied art in Dachau, near Munich, before marrying in 1901, Berlin-based architect, August Endell, at which time she became Else Endell. She had an open relationship with her husband, and in 1902 she became involved romantically with a friend of Endell's, the minor poet and translator Felix Paul Greve (later the Canadian author Frederick Philip Grove), and all three went to Palermo in late January 1903. They then moved to various places, including Wollerau, Switzerland and Paris-Plage, France. In July 1910, she followed Greve to North America, where they operated a small farm in Sparta, Kentucky, not far from Cincinnati, Ohio. Grove eventually left, in 1911, and went west to a bonanza farm near Fargo, North Dakota, and came to Manitoba in 1912. She started modeling for artists in Cincinnati, and made her way east via West Virginia and Philadelphia, before she married in November 1913 the German Baron Leopold von Freytag-Loringhoven in New York. There, she became known as "the dadaist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven."

Immersion in the arts

In New York City, Freytag-Loringhoven supported herself by working in a cigarette factory and by posing as a model for artists such as Louis Bouché, George Biddle, and Man Ray. She also appeared in works by Man Ray, George Grantham Bain and others; lithography by George Biddle; and paintings by Teresa Bernstein.

The Baroness was a poet who was given a platform for her work in The Little Review, where, starting in 1918, her work was featured alongside the chapters of James Joyce's Ulysses. Jane Heap considered the Baroness “the first American dada.” She was an early female pioneer of sound poetry,[3] but also made creative use of the dash, while many of her portmanteau compositions, such as “Kissambushed” and “Phalluspistol,”[4] present miniature poems. Most of her poems remained unpublished until the publications of Body Sweats.

In New York, the Baroness also worked on assemblage sculptures and paintings, creating art out of the rubbish and refuse she collected from the streets. An avid collaborator, the Baroness may have been involved in the conception of Marcel Duchamp's famous ready-made, Fountain (1917). As Irene Gammel has documented, the choice of a urinal as art work is more in line with Freytag-Loringhoven's scatological aesthetics than with Duchamp's.[5] Moreover, Duchamp indicates in a letter to his sister written in 1917 that a female friend of his had sent him the urinal for submission at the Independents Exhibition.[6] Rediscovered by the Whitney Museum in New York City in 1996, her Portrait of Marcel Duchamp (no longer extant) is an example of her ready-made pieces. She also contributed to New York Dada by collaborating with Morton Schamberg on the 1917 assemblage sculpture God.

In 1923, Freytag-Loringhoven went back to Berlin, expecting better opportunities to make money, but instead finding an economically devastated post-World War I Germany. Regardless of her difficulties in Weimar Germany, she remained there, penniless and on the verge of insanity. Several friends in the American expatriate community, in particular Djuna Barnes, Berenice Abbott, and Peggy Guggenheim, provided emotional and financial support.

Over the next few months Freytag-Loringhoven's mental stability steadily improved in Paris. However, she died on 14 December 1927 of gas suffocation after the gas was left on in her flat. She may have forgotten to turn the gas off, or someone else may have turned it on; the circumstances were never clear. She is buried in Paris, France at Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Biographies

The Baroness was one of the “characters, one of the terrors of the district,” wrote her first biographer

Cultural references

The novel Holy Skirts, by Rene Steinke, a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award, is based on the life of the Freytag-Loringhoven. The title Holy Skirts comes from the title of a poem by Elsa.

References

External links

  • Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven Research
  • Biography
  • Christopher Lane's ill. FrL Article, including a brief biography, & some of her poems and writings
  • the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  • Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven Digital Library. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  • University of Maryland Freytag-Loringhoven collection finding aid, Dr. Beth Alvarez. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  • University of Manitoba FPG (Greve/Grove) & FrL Collections
  • Find A Grave Memorial Find a Grave Memorial for Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
  • Collection Finding-Aid, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Francis Naumann Gallery, New York Freytag-Loringhoven web-page
  • Literatur-Haus, Berlin FrL Exhibition, 30 March to May, 2005

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.