It’s hard to determine where I nurtured my love for art because it’s like it’s been in my blood from birth. I grew up hearing “We’ll be back late tonight, it’s opening night at the gallery” and the endless phone calls my dad received from international clients in languages I didn’t understand at home. era. A lot of the things my parents did didn’t make sense to me, but they looked like premonitions of what my future held; they felt good.
My parents were at the root of this passion, but the turning point was the discovery of Peggy Guggenheim – one of the most fascinating women to walk on this earth, in my humble opinion.
I discovered it spontaneously while walking around Venice, the summer before my first year of college. When I entered the Peggy Guggenheim collection, I immediately recognized a Picasso painting to my right, in front of me a hanging Calder, to my left a Magritte. Basically I could see a Jean Arp, a Pollock and a Dalí… it seemed to me that all the great modernist artists were there, present, in the room.
She had lived within these walls, and every work in sight had been hers. Before leaving the museum, I bought his autobiography “Out of this Century: Confessions of an Art Addict”And embarked on a journey to become someone I didn’t know I could be. And although I discovered her quite late, life since has been a little more exciting – like she can make all the boring things shine, and all distant dreams seem attainable.
Guggenheim was born into the wealthy New York Guggenheim family, destined for a life of ostentatious riches and pretentious people. His father died in the Titanic tragedy in 1912; she stayed with her mother and her two sisters, Hazel and Benita. Death and dissociation became the mainstays of her youth, and she has always been considered the “black sheep” of the Guggenheims.
She married writer Laurence Vail and had two children: Sindbad and Pegeen. Their problematic marriage led to an unfair divorce in which her children were separated – Sindbad left with Laurence and she kept Pegeen. In her memoir, she mentions feeling like she had nothing in common with Sinbad other than their physical resemblance. Pegeen, on the other hand, was “the love of her life” – they were close and adoring each other, but no matter how hard she tried, Guggenheim felt she didn’t know how to be a mother to Pegeen.
They led terribly similar lives, so much so that it was Pegeen’s problematic marriage that drove her to suicide at age 41. The destroyed maternities did not stop either. Peggy’s sister, Benita, died in childbirth and Hazel’s two sons ‘fell’ from the roof of the Surrey Hotel. divorced. Tragedy after tragedy. Kafkaesque, almost.
In fact, it was thanks to the death of her own mother and the $ 450,000 fortune left in her name that she was able to open her first gallery, “Guggenheim Young”, in London in 1938. With the war, she was forced to leave London and settle in New York City. In 1939, artists were desperate to sell art, and at one point Guggenheim was buying a painting a day at ridiculously low prices – in her memoir, she remembers buying a Dalí while in bed. In addition to buying, she also urged artists to leave Europe and settle in the United States. In 1942, she opened her second gallery, “Art of this Century”, and with this opening, Guggenheim became the bridge between European and American art, between surrealism and abstract expressionism. The link between brains like Picasso, Miró and Giacometti and Paul Klee, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still, his new jewels. She considered herself “the midwife” of the American avant-garde, having given many great names in modern art their first solo exhibition.
Perhaps her most incredible work as a matron was the discovery of Jackson Pollock, who was job as a maintenance worker for the museum of his uncle, the Solomon R. Guggenheim of New York (then Museum of Non-Objective Painting), when they first met. She sees potential and invests herself, as she had done before with several other artists. She did it “. Guggenheim commissioned Pollock to create a mural that would go on the exterior wall of his house in the city; to date, it is the artist’s greatest work.
Art was Guggenheim’s identity – she married to the wall, the medium, the work and the artist. She was his greatest creation. Guggenheim managed to own the largest collection of modern art for the ridiculous sum of $ 40,000. Today there is not a single painting in his collection which could be purchased for an eighth of that value.
What art would be today if it hadn’t been, we’ll never know. What is certain is that she was the first of her kind. A reincarnation of Isabelle d’Este but eccentric, sensual and promiscuous. She nourished art as one nourishes one’s last breath. She has raised artists and created a haven for them to flourish and develop. Guggenheim has become the Mecca for connoisseurs, patrons and appreciators to come together.
Her role as a matron is global, family ties condemned to the mother of a whole generation. An incessant one, because I too found a mother in Peggy Guggenheim. And while I won’t have the opportunity to marry Max Ernst, nor to have Marcel Duchamp as my mentor and best friend, I would love to find my own artists and invest in the magic with a brushstroke. Art is a way of life. One way to grow. A way to die.
The artistic editor of the daily Cecilia Duran can be contacted at [email protected]