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Holy Skirts: A Novel of a Flamboyant Woman…

Holy Skirts: A Novel of a Flamboyant Woman Who Risked All for Art (2005)

by Rene Steinke

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Showing 5 of 5
I love this book, and I am not much for nonfiction or biographies. It is an incredibly rich and fascinating read, and if even a quarter of Elsa's life was truly as it is portrayed in Holy Skirts, she lived the kind of life I an deeply in awe of. This is a book that leaves me with a fresh and joyous perspective on my own life each time I read it...highly, highly recommended! ( )
  willowsmom | Nov 30, 2009 |
An interesting work of ‘bio-fiction’, but rather frustrating. The author takes the life of the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, a woman who, at 19, travels to Berlin and takes to the stage in what is basically an artistic girly show. She takes numerous lovers, some for pay, eventually weds an artist who cannot consummate the marriage, leaves him for their friend, a poet who ends up discouraging her own poetry, they travel to New York where he leaves her, she marries a Baron who is a compulsive gambler who abandons her to go back to Germany and ends up dead. Left penniless, she takes to modeling for artists and falls in with the new Dadaist movement and occasionally selling poems. The censors of the day force the little artistic magazines out of the bookstores and out of the mail system. Her is basically one shoe falling after the other. Every time she starts looking up, a bird craps in her face so to speak.

The woman was apparently a talented poet, and probably psychotic, though whether it’s from inherited syphilis or something else one can’t tell. She was a walking bit of performance art, dressing in found art jewelry and clothes altered with all sorts of materials. The book leaves her still in New York; I know she later moved to Paris and had further adventures. The author goes deeply into the Baroness’s mind & soul, making her a sympathetic, fascinating character. Other members of the Dada movement are brought to life; Man Ray uses her as a model and Marcel Duchamp is her unrequited love interest.

Sadly, the book not only fills in the gaps missing from history to fill out the Baroness’s story-necessary in a story like this- but some things get changed around. Names of husbands and dates of marriages don’t follow the actual facts, and I wonder how much else was altered to make a better story. I would have thought the Baroness was an interesting enough person to not do this. ( )
1 vote lauriebrown54 | Nov 20, 2009 |
Absolutely love reading about Dada artists, and Elsa is one of the best! ( )
  mollyduckpond | Dec 24, 2007 |
You can tell that this was published recently because of the lame subtitle. Actually a very good and suprisingly rich read -- the "Courtney Love" of her generation, the Countess was everywhere...Pretty fascinating.
  Jabes | Aug 7, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
The evenly calibrated narrative voice here seems equally at ease telescoping out to describe particular scenes of early New York bohemia as it is outlining some of the outrageous artistic and philosophical designs that define Elsa’s compelling and tumultuous inner life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060778016, Paperback)

No one in 1917 New York had ever encountered a woman like the Bar-oness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven -- poet, artist, proto-punk rocker, sexual libertine, fashion avatar, and unrepentant troublemaker. When she wasn't stalking the streets of Greenwich Village wearing a brassiere made from tomato cans, she was enthusiastically declaiming her poems to sailors in beer halls or posing nude for Man Ray or Marcel Duchamp. In an era of brutal war, technological innovation, and cataclysmic change, the Baroness had resolved to create her own destiny -- taking the center of the Dadaist circle, breaking every bond of female propriety . . . and transforming herself into a living, breathing work of art.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:26 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In 1917 no one had ever seen a woman like the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. She regally stalked the streets of Greenwich Village wearing a bustle with a flashing taillight, a brassiere made from tomato cans, or a birdcage necklace; declaimed her poems to sailors in beer halls; and enthusiastically modeled in the nude for artists such as Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, setting the city ablaze with her antics. Before today's outsized celebrities, there was the Baroness - poet and artist, proto-punk rocker, sexual libertine, fashion avatar, and troublemaker. At the center of the Dadaist circle, the Baroness transformed herself into a living, breathing work of art." "Holy Skirts is a vivid imagining of the Baroness's story. Beginning in 1904, with Elsa's burlesque performance onstage in Berlin's Wintergarten cabaret, the adventures continue across Europe, through turbulent marriages and love affairs, until the Baroness finally lands in New York City, just before America enters the war. As she befriends Greenwich Village artists and writers, she defines herself as a poet, even as she breaks the bonds of female propriety." "Holy Skirts is a celebration of resilience and imagination, an exploration of the world in which the modern woman was born, and a testament to the lost bohemia."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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