Yes... I was talking about Peggy Guggenheim in my previous post Can you guess who she is? and so many of you guessed right (the comments are now published on that post) but the first to give the right answer was John Lyle. I am sure many of you are familiar with his name, if not I encourage you to go HERE to see his website, full of extraordinary pieces.
Back to Peggy, she was one of the most influential collectors of modern art in the twentieth century...Hard to believe but she considered herself as the poor Guggenheim, since the death of her father aboard the Titanic created some financial troubles for her mother, so even if she was quite wealthy her lifestyle was not comparable to those of her uncles. She became friend, or lover, or wife of many outstanding artists, among them Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy, Laurence Vail, Samuel Beckett and she started collecting works from unknown artists of her time, soon to become icons in the art world.
During my last visit to Venice I went once again to Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, her long searched dream home, an unfinished palace on the Grand Canal. The name comes from the eight carved marble lion heads decorating the facade. The palazzo construction began in 1748 for the Venier family (three of the city's doges were Venier); the building remained incompiuto, unfinished, for uncertain reasons, several speculations no precise answer. When Peggy saw it the palazzo still had only one finished floor and she decided to keep it that way.
"Standing Woman" (1947) by Alberto Giacometti
Maurizio Nannucci (2003)
A sculpture by Anish Kapoor (2007)
Inside the building we can appreciate a vast collection of modern and contemporary art, her furniture are gone but luckily we can still see photographs and explanations of how the palazzo looked when she lived there. Below is a picture of Peggy in her bedroom, which had a view of the Grand Canal, notice on the wall behind the bed, shimmering like the Venetian water, the silver sculpture with fish and butterfly, made by Calder in 1946 in new York, but absolutely at home here in Venice.
The dining room
In August 1978, Peggy turned eighty and her birthday was celebrated appropriately. Descending from her personal gondola, to go to the party held for her at the Gritti Hotel she was greeted by a banner with her name and a phrase "To the Ultima Dogaressa" referring to the power of the ancient dogi of Venice. So famous was her collection that Venice's international Biennale once gave her a pavilion all to herself. Peggy said: "It was wonderful, I was listed with Germany and France. I felt like a whole country all by myself."
Later in life she found a way that would permanently preserve her palazzo and her collection. In 1976 she donated her collection to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (started by her uncle in New York) stating that the collection must remain in its location in Venice, thus creating the Venetian branch Guggenheim-Venice.
"Here lies Peggy Guggenheim, 1898-1979"
Photography by Albarosa Simonetti (images of Peggy Guggenheim were photographed from the walls)
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