BIOGRAPHY | Peggy Guggenheim


Solomon R. Guggenheim’s niece, Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979), was a self-described “art addict” who sought to distinguish herself from her business-oriented relatives and make her mark on the world through collecting and traveling in avant-garde circles. Peggy’s collections, galleries, and museum were all stamped with her distinct tastes and style.

Her singular career spanned the modern era, linking the Dada and Surrealist movements with Abstract Expressionism. She collected and championed artists from Vasily Kandinsky to Jackson Pollock to Yves Tanguy, and made few distinctions between her business and private lives: her two marriages were to artists, Dadaist Laurence Vail and Surrealist Max Ernst, amid a string of liaisons and intrigues with the likes of Samuel Beckett and Constantin Brancusi.

Largely self-taught when it came to art, Peggy was guided by her interest in creativity and iconoclasm, and found her way to her métier through her personal connections in the avant-garde world after arriving in Paris in the 1920s. She moved in the same circles as Brancusi, Marcel Duchamp, writer and artist Djuna Barnes, and painter Romaine Brooks; she was photographed by Man Ray and dressed by the legendary designer Paul Poiret.

It was not until she moved to London in the late 1930s, fleeing the Nazi occupation of the continent, that Peggy opened her first gallery, Guggenheim Jeune. Around this time, Samuel Beckett told her that “one should be interested in art of one’s time,” which became one of her mottos and lent itself to the name of her celebrated second gallery, Art of This Century in New York. From Paris to London, she quickly amassed one of the most prominent collections of Cubist and Surrealist art, during a period when few others (including her uncle and Rebay) held these works in high regard. Her initial collection, acquired at a rate of one painting per day on frenzied trips to Paris during World War II, cost her only $40,000 for a group of works by Brancusi, Georges Braque, Salvador Dalí, Ernst, Fernand Léger, and Pablo Picasso, among others… read more here.

SOURCE: Guggenheim