Peggy Guggenheim art addict.
Lisa Immordino Vreeland signs an unpublished documentary on this visionary and daring gallery owner, who at 21 years old leaves New York high society to settle in the Paris of the Roaring Twenties, where she will meet Jean Cocteau , Fernand Léger , Samuel Beckett or Marcel Duchamp , with whom she discovered surrealism and cubism, before becoming one of the greatest patrons and collectors of her time.
The story of Peggy Guggenheim was of a life less ordinary, writes Richard Fitzpatrick
The number of artists’ lives Peggy Guggenheim had a part in is staggering. She gave Lucian Freud his first show in London. She was responsible for discovering and giving patronage to Jackson Pollock, which included a monthly $300 stipend and the loan to buy a house in Long Island away from the temptations of New York City.
Her art collection contains works by the likes of Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró. She hoovered up a large tranche of them in Paris in 1940 as the Nazis were laying siege to Europe, oblivious to her safety as a Jew. Just as Adolf Hitler’s soldiers were about to march into the city, she had the works sent to New York hidden amongst bedclothes and casserole dishes.
She was schooled by Marcel Duchamp, a friend of hers since arriving in Paris in 1921, married Max Ernst, and interestingly promoted work by both of Robert De Niro’s parents. The actor is interviewed about his memories of the grand dame in the documentary, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, as part of the Cork Film Festival.
“The art historian John Richardson said she was ‘a pollinator’,” says the film’s director, Lisa Immordino Vreeland. “She was also a conduit and a facilitator. She was in the right place at the right time. She was interested in supporting the artists. At the same time, she was a friend of these artists. She was in the middle of the great art movements of the twentieth century.” Immordino Vreeland was drawn to her subject because Guggenheim re-invented herself. She was born in 1898 and was ordained to live a domesticated, bourgeois life amongst New York’s moneyed class, but it was a role she rejected. She became the family’s enfant terrible.