Cathedral by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Wood fragment, 10 7/16 in.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA

Freytag-Loringhoven’s “Cathedral” is formed from a piece of fractured wood mounted on a scrap of construction wood. Sleek lines are replaced with jagged wood offering an organic riposte of the steel and glass skyscrapers that were beginning to rise in New York City. One of those early buildings, the Woolworth Building (1912) was known as the “Cathedral of Commerce”. Freytag-Loringhoven’s suggestively named readymade offers a critique of the capitalist society that worshipped the gods of commerce.

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven 1874-1927

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
Dada, Performance Art, Readymade and The Found Object, Modern Photography, Proto-Feminist Artists
Born: 12 July 1874, Swinemunde, Germany
Nationality: German-American
Died: 14 December 1927, Paris, France

The Baroness, as Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was known, was a living legend in the bohemian enclave of Greenwich Village, New York in the years before and after the First World War. She was a catalyst and provocateur of the burgeoning Dada movement in New York, and the Baroness obliterated the conventional boundaries and norms of womanhood and femininity whilst upending the notions of what was considered to be art