This book provides a new critical reappraisal of the work of modernist writer and artist Mina Loy. Primarily known for her daring and difficult poems, Loy was also the author of a dazzling variety of other literary and visual artworks in different genres and media. My reading demonstrates the richness and complexity of her work beyond the more often-explored path from Futurism to Dada to Surrealism, emphasizing the importance of her perpetual travel between disparate aesthetics. Engaging in a close analysis of her poetry, essays, manifestoes, and novel Insel, I unearth a multiplicity of hidden literary and pictorial intertexts in her works. Tracing the origins of Loy’s often puzzling imagery, I examine the complex strategies of collage, condensation, distortion, and displacement through which she conflates multiple allusions in enigmatic constellations. I challenge T.S. Eliot’s claim that Loy lacks an œuvre, claiming that there is an aesthetic project, or at least a paradoxical unity in her famously fragmented work. I show how her writings critically engage with the turbulence of avant-garde innovation of her time, pinpointing the essential ephemerality of the avant-gardes and their tendency to become dogmatic ideologies. Through a perpetual shift of the aesthetic paradigm, Loy’s work creates dialogic exchanges between different experimental aesthetic programs. Thus, the book positions Loy not only as an important artist, but also as a major theorist of modernist and avant-garde aesthetics.
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