Djuna Barnes, born on June 12, 1892, near Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, was an influential artist and writer. She attended the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League of New York before moving to Greenwich Village in 1915, where she started her career as an illustrator, journalist, and author.
As an illustrator, Barnes' created work for Vanity Fair and Vogue in 1916. As a poet, she published a collection entitled Repulsive Women (1915), in which her poems were accompanied by original drawings. As a journalist, she gained popularity writing for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and became friends with James Joyce after interviewing him for Vanity Fair.
In 1921, Barnes moved to Paris, where she met Thelma Wood, who would become her partner. During her time in Paris, she became acquainted with notable figures like T.S. Eliot, Mina Loy, Natalie Barney, Radclyffe Hall, Charles Henri Ford, Laurence Vail, Emily Coleman, Kay Boyle, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Coutenay Lemon, Charlie Chaplin, and Ernst Hanfstaengl.
While in Paris, Barnes maintained close friendships with fellow artists like Berenice Abbott, Jane Heap, and Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven. Barnes and the Baroness were lovers intermittently and committed to publishing each other's work.
Barnes' most historically significant novel is Nightwood, published with the help of Emily Coleman and T.S. Eliot in 1936. She returned to New York permanently at the onset of WWII, where she continued her artistic and literary career.
Barnes' work, “Portrait of Alice,” which depicted Alice Rohrer, was included in the Exhibition by 31 Women. Barnes and Guggenheim had been friends since their time in Paris, and Barnes even spent summers at Guggenheim's home in Devon in 1932 and 1933.
Djuna Barnes' illustrations, journalism, and literary works had significant influence on the cultural landscape of the early 20th century, and her work remains an essential part of the modernist movement.
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