Clara Tice Biography Final Draft

Clara Tice

Date of Birth: May 22nd, 1888

Place of Birth: New York City

Date of Death: February 2nd, 1973

Place of Death: New York City (studio apartment in Queens, New York City)

Country of Origin, Citizenship: America

Gender: female

Race: white

Kind of Artists/ Cultural worker: Illustrator, graphic artist, theater set-designer, publicity-designer/publicist

Dates and Places of Overlap with Loy: Salons with the Arsensberg circle between 1915 and 1921 (uptown NYC)

Avant-garde movements Tice was associated with: Ashcan school, “First Exhibition of Independent Artists,” Modernists/Arsensberg circle

  • Originally had connection to the Ashcan school via her art mentor, Robert Henri
    • Ashcan school was a somewhat experimental, loosely aligned coalition of artists (mostly male) in earl 20thcentury NYC who wanted to make art which depicted the truths of urban life
  • Had a hand in financing the first exhibition of Independent artists
  • Modernist movement: Was introduced to Walter and Louise Arsensberg of the Arsensberg circle (of which Loy was a part) by Marcel Duchamp, and with them formed the Society of Independent Artists and its first exhibition. Here Tice met and interacted with the following figures:
    • Man Ray
    • Charles Demuth
    • Beatrice Wood
    • Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven
    • Mina Loy (collaborator)

Historical Significance:

  • Tice was called the “Queen of Greenwich Village” due to the role her erotic and revolutionary illustrations played in the Bohemian/Modernist scene of Greenwich Village during the 1910’s and 1920’s. Her illustrations, many of which depicted nude women and animals, caused simultaneously caused controversy and were celebrated by viewers. Tice exercised her artistic ability in each of the artistic careers she pursued throughout her life, ranging from set designer to children’s book editor.

Relationship to Loy:

  • Tice and Loy overlapped during the six-year span between 1915 and 1921, in which both Tice and Loy were active members of the Modernist Arsensberg circle.
    • Tice’s illustrations also appear in Loy’s book The Lost Lunar Baedeker, and one of her drawings was published with Loy’s “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots.” (Thus, the two women definitely interacted and influenced each other artistically.)


Clara Tice was born in 1888 in Elmira, New York, roughly two hundred miles away from New York City, where she would spend the majority of her life. Tice was first introduced to the city at a young age when she moved with her middle-class family from Elmira to Manhattan (Keller 415).

Throughout her childhood, Tice was encouraged to be creative, experimental, and independent by her progressive parents and began studying painting under the guidance of Robert Henry in her late teens. Henri, one of the founders of the Ashcan School, embraced controversial subject matter in his own art and encouraged Tice to follow suit. Tice allowed her art to be influenced by Henri while permitting her own unique style and subject matter to develop. Through Henry, Tice helped to initiate the first exhibition of Independent Artists in 1910 (Guenter 4-5). During the exhibition, Tice sold her art to viewers who celebrated her work’s simple style and provocative subject matter. Other viewers, petitioning for the preservation of morality of New York City, openly admonished the unapologetically overt images Tice produced by paint and by pen (“At the Little,” 47-48; “Clara Tice lights,” 8; Keller 414-419). Contrary to the desires of viewers who aimed to keep Tice’s work out of the public eye, negative opinions concerning Tice’s art attracted the attention of Modernist publications, which began to rapidly publish Tice’s work, fueling her artistic career (Keller 414).

It was during this time in Tice’s life that she first came into contact with Modernist artists and writers including Mina Loy. Tice first met Loy between the years 1915 and 1921, when both women were active participants within the Arsensberg circle (Keller 425). The two women were collaborators and creatively influenced each other; Tice’s illustrations appear alongside many of Loy’s published poems (Ross 216-217). Tice continued producing her trademark illustrations throughout the nineteen-twenties and became a recognizable public figure in Greenwich village. Tice’s bohemian illustrations appeared on theater curtains and within Greenwich village shop-interiors (“At the Little,” 47-48; Keller 429-432). Tice continued producing art until her last major exhibition in 1934 (Keller 434).

Following her final exhibition, Tice moved to Connecticut and began illustrating children’s books. Tice returned to New York City in the mid nineteen-forties and remained in Greenwich village until she became destitute and moved in with her sister in Queens. Here, Tice reflected on her life as an artist and began several drafts of an autobiography which she was never able to publish.  Suffering from glaucoma and arthritis and unable to write or produce art throughout the 1950’s and ‘60’s, Clara Tice died in Queens in 1973 at the age of eighty-five (Guenter 8-10; Keller 435-436).

Works Cited:

“At the Little Thimble Theatre.” The Lotus Magazine, Oct. 1915, pp. 47-48. JSTOR.“

“Clara Tice lights Guido Bruno Garret.” New York Times, 11 May 1915, p. 8. ProQuest.

Guenter, Patricia. “Clara Tice Rediscovered.” Clara Tice: A Dada Woman. Fwd. Anne M. Lampe. Ex. cat. Lancaster: Demuth Museum, 2007. 4-10.

Keller, Marie T., editor. “Clara Tice, “Queen of Greenwich Village”.” Women in Dada: Essays on Sex, Gender, and Identity, edited by Naomi Sawelson-Gorse, The MIT Press, 1998, pp. 415-441.

Ross, Lauren. “Clara Tice (1888-1973).” Making Mischief: Dada Invades New York, edited by Francis M. Naumann and Beth Venn, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996, p. 190.

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