A Short Biography of the
Baroness Elsa Freytag-Loringhoven
including some of her writings
By Christopher Lane
posted: 12-30-08
Baroness Elsa Freytag-Loringhoven Portrait of Marcel Duchamp c. 1920
Image Source

"The Baroness Else von Freytag-Loringhoven (sometimes printed with another 'von' after 'Freytag') was one of the most bizarre characters seen in Greenwich Village during the '20s. In many ways the Baroness's life was so tragic and ridiculous that it is difficult to understand what interest Pound took in her. Until recently, very little was known of her day-to-day life. Since the publication of her autobiography by Paul Hjartarson and Douglas O. Spettigue in 1992, much more of her life is known. Earlier printed accounts generally tell a few legendary stories about her but little else, and even many of these stories have the air of rumor...Attracted by the artistic scene, she found some work as a nude model for the Futurist and Expressionist painters, among them Marcel Duchamp, who appreciated her "lean masculine figure and gaunt ravaged face." (A certain strong parallel with today's fashion modeling scene suggests itself.) She composed a poem in his honor, titled, "Marcel, Marcel, I Love You Like Hell, Marcel."

According to her autobiography, most of her art objects were produced out of other people's rubbish: sequins, buttons, bits of cloth, metal, and wood. The Baroness's sculpture also gained notoriety among the New York Dada movement."

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