Thursday, November 19, 2015

She collected art -- and men

Complicated, sexually adventurous and deeply devoted to the art she collected, Peggy Guggenheim managed to assemble one of the world's most important collections of 20th century paintings and sculpture. A devotee of Jackson Pollack, Picasso, Max Ernst (whom she later married) and Marcel Duchamp, Guggenheim's collection today is valued in the billions. She spent about $40,000 acquiring much of it during World War II. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland builds her documentary -- Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict -- around recently discovered audio tapes in which Guggenheim was interviewed by biographer Jacqueline Bograd Weld. Vreeland tells us about Guggenheim's family (her father died on the Titanic), and takes us with Guggenheim to Paris in 1921. There, Guggenheim managed to become part of the art world. She was one of those people who knew everyone worth knowing. She also spent time in London, where she ran the Guggenheim Jeune Gallery. When the war broke out, Guggenheim returned to New York and eventually opened a gallery called Art of This Century, a fabled spot for viewing work by the shining stars of modernism. In 1947, Guggenheim moved to Venice, where her collection is housed in the palazzo she restored. She died in 1979 at the age of 81. Interviews include curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist and art dealer Larry Gagosian. I wouldn't call Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict a great documentary, but the life and times of this brash, frank and influential woman stave off any trace of boredom.

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