One of twentieth-century America's most influential patrons of the arts, Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) brought to wide public attention the work of such modern masters as Jackson Pollock and Man Ray. Read more...
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One of twentieth-century America's most influential patrons of the arts, Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) brought to wide public attention the work of such modern masters as Jackson Pollock and Man Ray. In her time, there was no stronger advocate for the groundbreaking and the avant-garde. Her midtown gallery was the acknowledged center of the postwar New York art scene, and her museum on the Grand Canal in Venice remains one of the world's great collections of modern art. Yet as renowned as she was for the art and artists she so tirelessly championed, Guggenheim was equally famous for her unconventional personal life, and for her ironic, playful desire to shock.
Acclaimed best-selling author Francine Prose offers a singular reading of Guggenheim's life that will enthrall enthusiasts of twentieth-century art, as well as anyone interested in American and European culture and the interrelationships between them. The lively and insightful narrative follows Guggenheim through virtually every aspect of her extraordinary life, from her unique collecting habits and paradigm-changing discoveries, to her celebrity friendships, failed marriages, and scandalous affairs, and Prose delivers a colorful portrait of a defiantly uncompromising woman who maintained a powerful upper hand in a male-dominated world. Prose also explores the ways in which Guggenheim's image was filtered through the lens of insidious antisemitism.
- ISBN-13: 9780300203486
- ISBN-10: 0300203489
- Publisher: Yale University Press
- Publish Date: September 2015
- Page Count: 240
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds
Series: Jewish Lives (Hardcover)
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-07-20
- Reviewer: Staff
Lively, complex, and inclined to shock, Guggenheim (1898–1979), the modern art collector, emerges as the embodiment of the age in Prose’s (Lovers at the Chameleon Club) judicious biography. Leaning heavily on Guggenheim’s provocative memoir, Out of this Century (1979), Prose reveals the collector as both insecure and irrepressible, someone who continually felt taken advantage of, which was frequently the case, and who seemed to gravitate to social drama. Though she invariably footed the bill and financially supported many people, she was always accused (with its anti-Semitic implication) of stinginess. While she could be reckless and insensitive, Guggenheim was, thankfully, never dull. She counted Herbert Read, Marcel Duchamp, and Alfred Barr as advisers, and Samuel Beckett, Yves Tanguy, and Max Ernst as lovers (she bragged about having slept with more than 400 men). In London, she established Guggenheim Jeune, a gallery that showed Jean Cocteau, Wassily Kandinsky, and Alexander Calder. Before the Nazi occupation of France, she rescued works of art and funded artists’ passages to the U.S., the importance of which Prose forcefully brings home. In New York, she founded a completely new kind of art space called Art of This Century, where she promoted an obscure Jackson Pollock. Finally, in Venice, she invigorated the city with her collection and hosted a bustling salon. Guggenheim, though, had a better eye for art than for men. She clung to problematic, if not abusive, relationships. In the description of the collector’s husband Max Ernst beating her while Duchamp looked on, Prose points to the dark underside of these times. Photos. (Sept.)