Peggy Guggenheim: The Life of an Art Addict

Peggy Guggenheim: The Life of an Art Addict

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By (author) Anton Gill

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  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 552 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 197mm x 28mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 7 October 2002
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006531350
  • ISBN 13: 9780006531357
  • Illustrations note: facsimiles, portraits
  • Sales rank: 588,532

Product description

The wayward life (1898-1979) of the voracious art collector and great female patron of world-famous artists. 'Mrs Guggenheim, how many husbands have you had?' 'Do you mean my own, or other people's?' Peggy Guggenheim was an American millionairess art collector and legendary lover, whose father died on the Titanic returning from installing the lift machinery in the Eiffel Tower. She lived in Paris in the 1930s and got to know all the major artists - especially the Surrealists. (Later she bullied Max Ernst into marrying her, but was snubbed by Picasso.) When the Second World War broke out, she bought great numbers of paintings from artists fleeing to America; as a Jew she escaped from Vichy France and set up in New York, where in the 1940s and 50s she befriended and encouraged the New York School (Jackson Pollock, Rothko, etc.) Her emotional life was in constant turmoil - a life of booze, bed and bohemia (mostly rich bohemia). Her favourite husband was a drunken English dilettante writer called Lawrence Vail, but she bedded many others, including Samuel Beckett. Later she moved to Venice, where her memory is enshrined in the world-famous palazzo that houses her Guggenheim Collection.

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Author information

Anton Gill has written several plays and features for radio and television, novels and many distinguished works of non-fiction, including THE JOURNEY BACK FROM HELL: Conversations with Concentration Camp Survivors, which won the H.H. Wingate Prize in 1988 and is still in print as a HarperCollins paperback; BERLIN TO BUCHAREST (HC); AN HONOURABLE DEFEAT: A HISTORY OF THE GERMAN RESISTANCE TO HITLER; and THE DEVIL'S MARINER: A BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM DAMPIER.

Editorial reviews

Peggy Guggenheim was one of the 20th century's most prominent collectors of modern art. Born in 1898 into the Jewish-American Guggenheims, Peggy lost her father on the Titanic and inherited a fortune. She moved to Paris in the 1930s, involved herself in the bohemian lifestyle of the American expatriate community and used her money to gain a foothold in the male art world by supporting artists and writers and assembling a formidable collection of works by Cubists and Surrealists. An independent woman, she also had relationships with, among others, Samuel Beckett, Yves Tanguy and Max Ernst, whom she married. After her escape from Vichy France, she opened the pioneering Art Of This Century Gallery in 1940s New York. Here, she was one of the first collectors to champion the Abstract Expressionists, particularly Jackson Pollock, and her salons allowed exiled European avant-garde painters to meet their younger American counterparts. Peggy spent the final years of her life in Venice, a city she loved, where she played host to a passing parade of the rich and famous and where, after her lonelier later years and her death in 1979, her collection was kept in her palazzo where it can now be seen. Anton Gill is a contemporary historian and provides a fast-moving and entertaining account of Peggy Guggenheim's life derived from both public and private archives. He is particularly strong on the way anti-semitism shaped her family history. The original Guggenheims moved to America to escape restrictions on Jews. Yet, ironically, Peggy preferred Europe because of the anti-semitism she encountered in the USA. Gill is also strong on art history and seems to revel in the anecdotes which surround the legend of Peggy and her many friends and lovers. This is an interesting and informative life of a formidable woman. (Kirkus UK)