January 18, 2010

Honor Spotlight

Peggy Guggenheim









Marguerite ‘Peggy’ Guggenheim (1898—1979) was an American art collector. Born to a wealthy New York City family, she was the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim, who went down with the Titanic in 1912 and the niece of Solomon R Guggenheim, who would establish the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation. When she was twenty-one she inherited a not-so-small fortune although, as the less wealthy branch of the family, it was an amount far less than the vast wealth of her father’s siblings. In 1938 she opened a gallery for modern art in London featuring Jean Cocteau and began to collect works of art. After the outbreak of World War II, she purchased as much abstract and Surrealist art as possible. She was particularly interested in new artists and she was instrumental in advancing the careers of many important modern artists, including the American painter Jackson Pollock, the Austrian surrealist Wolfgang Paalen, the sound poet Ada Verdun Howell, and the German painter Max Ernst whom she married in 1942. By the early 1960s she had stopped collecting art and began to concentrate on presenting what she already owned. She loaned out her collection to museums throughout Europe and America, including, of course, the Guggenheim. Eventually, she decided to donate her large home and her collection to the Guggenheim Foundation on her death – the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

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