Arts & Entertainment

“DIE in the Past. Live in the Future.”

Sponsored by Provocations / University of Nebraska Press

In 1917, a year after moving to New York City, the poet, painter, lampshade-maker, and all-around modern artist Mina Loy spoke with a reporter from the Evening Sun. As Francesca Wade writes in “‘The Sanctuary of Pure Expression,’” from the Review’s February 9 issue, in the interview Loy “explained how her daily life informed her work”: “The modern flings herself at life and lets herself feel what she does feel then upon the very tick of the second she snatches the images of life that fly through her brain.”

Wade chronicles the remarkable images of life snatched by this modern nomad, who reinvented herself and her art across continents—London to Paris, Florence to New York, Mexico City to Aspen—and art movements—the Futurists, the Surrealists, the Vitalists, the Dadaists—seemingly living by an aphorism she published in Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work in 1914: “DIE in the Past. Live in the Future.”

Below, alongside Wade’s essay, we’ve collected a selection of articles from our archives about some of the bohemians, artists, and writers she encountered on her journeys.

Francesca Wade
‘The Sanctuary of Pure Expression’

A new biography of Mina Loy shows that the roving modernist saw artistic genius as a means to self-reinvention.

Virgil Thomson
Looking for the Lost Generation

“One is constantly being asked what it was like, living and working in Paris between the two wars. Not what any particular aspect was like, but all of it, all of life and art and love and food and hygiene. The young, of course, have no idea. And it’s hard explaining that everything, literally everything, was different, even the food.”

Darryl Pinckney
Sweet Evening Breeze

“The only thing Djuna Barnes required of her helper was that he not have a beard. I shaved, cut my hair, and fished out jacket and tie in spite of the heat, having been brought up to believe that I was not properly dressed unless I was extremely uncomfortable.”

William H. Gass
Gertrude Stein, Geographer: I

“Gertrude Stein liked to begin things in February.”

William H. Gass
Gertrude Stein, Geographer: II

“Life is repetition, and in a dozen different ways Gertrude Stein set out to render it.”

Jonathan Galassi
Speed in Life and Death

“The Futurists wanted to sweep away what the poet Guido Gozzano called ‘le buone cose di pessimo gusto,’ good things in the worst of taste, and replace them with an insolent, steely, polluting Machine Age. ‘Time and space ended yesterday,’ Marinetti intoned. ‘We already live in the absolute’—that is, in a state of perpetual youth menaced only by death.”

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