Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (2015)   Leave a comment


PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT tells the story of a woman born into a wealthy family who decides to collect art.  It doesn’t sound terribly exciting until you learn that she promoted and supported Picasso, Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, Motherwell, and Pollock.  She had affairs with or married Pollock, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Samuel Beckett and many others.  She created galleries in London and New York and a museum in Venice which bears her name.  Without her efforts at the start of World War II, many works of art and artists themselves might have been lost to the Nazis.  She may have been a fascinating character, but all we learn about her is that she loved to collect modern art and lovers.  All anyone in the film says about her personality I that she’s odd and a black sheep.


Shades of Venice

The film touches on the eccentricity of the Guggenheim family as well.  According to the film, Peggy’s sister, embroiled in a contentious custody hearing, pushed her two kids off the roof of a New York skyscraper.  No one pressed charges.  Aside from her unbalanced sister there’s Peggy’s father, Benjamin, whom she adored and who died on the Titanic, famously giving up his seat on a lifeboat to another passenger.  Peggy’s uncle Solomon, founded the Solomon R. Guggenhein Museum in New York City.


Uncle Solomon’s garage.

I enjoyed PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT although the film does less to enlighten us on the life and personality of the subject and more to name drop artistic and literary giants of the twentieth century.  That said, it was fun seeing Picasso and Max Ernst clowning around and Jackson Pollock smiling as he straddled a huge canvas on his Long Island lawn.  That lawn, the house on it, and the food Pollock ate subsidized by Peggy Guggenheim, by the way.


Mural by Jackson Pollock

Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the granddaughter-in-law of fashion writer Diana Vreeland, directed the film as a survey course on the life of Peggy Guggenheim.  I left knowing more about Peggy, but not a lot more.  Whether the subject and her friends balked at saying much about her or Vreeland just wanted to whet our appetite is unclear.  It does seem that a Jewish woman who smuggled valuable modern art out of Paris as the Nazis marched in and who had a headboard designed for her by Alexander Calder warrants a more exciting treatment.


Peggy and friends under her Calder headboard.

I saw PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT at the 2015 Provincetown International Film Festival.


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