Thursday, March 20, 2014

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

1898 - 1979
In 1948 Peggy Guggenheim, an American heiress, bought the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice to house her growing art collection.  She first opened her collection to the public in 1949.  The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice ( features a splendid collection of modern art.
Commander K. on Peggy's throne, Venice, IT
Peggy was the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim who had died while crossing the Atlantic on the Titanic in 1912.  On hearing the news of the collision with the iceberg, Guggenheim changed into his evening wear and was last seen drinking cognac and smoking a cigar with his valet.  His French mistress, LĂ©ontine Aubart, survived the Titanic disaster and lived until 1964.

Silver Bed Head, Alexander Calder, 1946
She founded the Guggenheim Jeune gallery in London in 1938.  Peggy lived for 30 years as an expatriate in Venice, from 1949 until her death in 1979.  She was an exceptionally shrewd art collector who was willing to take colossal risks.  Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 was like a starting pistol to Peggy Guggenheim who began an almost frenzied shopping spree for art while in Paris at that time.  She managed to flee from Paris to Grenoble only days before the Nazis rolled into the capital in 1940.  Fearful for her life as a Jewish woman in Vichy France, Peggy managed to escape to the USA in the summer of 1941.
Half-Length Portrait of a Man, Picasso, 1939
PGC, Venice
She returned to a war-ravaged Europe in 1947 and soon bought her Venetian Palazzo.  For many years she lived in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, sharing its space with visiting tourists.  This unfinished 18th century Palazzo is positioned on the Grand Canal.

The eternal Masculine lifts us ever upward!
The Angel of the City, Marino Marini, 1948
Peggy loved her Lhasa Apsa dogs.  All fourteen are buried near her final resting place in her beautiful sculpture garden just beside the museum.

Peggy's Lhasa Apsa Memorial
The Sculpture Garden has many treasures...

Chariot, Fritz Koenig, 1957
She had a fine eye and was a discriminating collector.

Voice of Space, Magritte, 1931
Peggy was an American eccentric who lived a bohemian lifestyle.  Peggy was said to have had a voracious sexual appetite.  She was married and divorced three husbands, a writer and two artists (including Max Ernst).  She had an affair with Samuel Beckett.  She is alleged to have had over 1,000 different partners.

Maiastra, Brancusi, 1912?
PGC, Venice
Benjamin Guggenheim went down with the Titanic;  Peggy Guggenheim went...well, she went nearly everywhere!
Pomona. Marino Marini, 1945
Peggy Guggenheim lived life on her own terms.  She experienced many tragedies including the probable suicide of her artist daughter Pegeen.  Nevertheless, near the end of her life she summed it up thus, "I look back on my life with great joy. I think it was a very successful life. I always did what I wanted and never cared what anyone thought. Women's lib? I was a liberated woman long before there was a name for it."

Windows Open Simultaneously, Robert Delaunay, 1912
PGC, Venice
Commander Kelly says, "Today her collection brings joy to millions.  If in Venice, go check it out!"

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades or on

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