Confessions Of an Art Addict by Peggy Guggenheim

What I Read This Week: Book 12/52

“Venice is not only a city of fantasy and freedom. It is also a city of joy and pleasure.”

-Peggy Guggenheim 

August 2017, sitting on Peggy Guggenheim’s chair while visiting her home collection in Venice, Italy. 

Dear Reader,

Thank you for stopping by!

As we approach the opening of the Venice Biennale on the 20th, I can’t help but feel a mix of excitement and nostalgia for my time there, where I worked for the European Cultural Academy. 

So, to honor my feelings and bring some Venice vibes to my life, I decided to deepen my understanding of Peggy Guggenheim and choose her memoir Confessions of an Art Addict. I knew a memoir written by her would be much better than a biography written by someone else because I am working on my memoir, and no one can share your life quite like yourself. 

Found on Pinterest

Having been to Peggy Guggenheim’s collection in Venice, I only knew her from a modern art standpoint. She was a woman before her time, devoted much of her life to the art world, and supported many artist careers like Jackson Pollock. So, while reading Confessions Of an Art Addict, I learned that Peggy was an avid traveler.

I discovered that Peggy visited Mexico in her early 50s and fell in love with the culture. She talked about how much she liked it and how much she liked Frida Kahlo but disliked her husband, and honestly, I think he was a good artist but a terrible man. While I was highly interested in her travels, and you could tell that she wanted to talk about them, she knew this memoir was just about your career as a curator. So, I will research that more because I am interested in seeing more about where she traveled and what artists she met.

I also learned that while Peggy was an extremely privileged woman who happened to be brought up in a wealthy family, it wasn’t always the healthiest environment and had many interesting, unstable characters. For her, one uncle tried to kill her mother’s sister and son with a golf club, and when he failed, he drowned himself. Sure, he was only in the family through marriage, but that’s a crazy family story. 

Also, because her father died while sailing on the Titanic, Peggy was never forced into a particular lifestyle by her mother. She wanted to work on something she found interesting, and when the opportunity to choose between publishing and an art gallery came, she chose art. 

Of course, this makes me jealous because while I love my life, it would have been so nice to just come into money and invest all my time into my interest. But Peggy also had a lonely and isolating childhood and did have an accident that ended with her jaw-breaking, so everything wasn’t fun and fabulous. 

So, she was a woman who answered to no one. When she wrote this book, she focused on the facts and didn’t use her voice or reach to hurt anyone because she had to talk about her ex-husband, Max Ernest. A surrealist artist, she helped get out of Europe during WWII. But she only said nice things, and honestly, I don’t know many people who would be able to do that.

From what I can tell, there was cheating, but multiple factors were going on in her marriage. She was focused on the gallery, and he found someone else to focus his time on. The someone else was a female artist Peggy was meant to show in her female-only exhibition, but once she found out they had some relationship, she dropped the artist from the show, which followed with their divorce. 

Peggy Guggenheim was a massive character in the art world and brought forward a new generation of artists. I’m glad that I decided to pick this book up, as it did give me the Venice vibes I was looking for. Now, I am even more excited to read about Peggy and see where else in the world she has traveled.

Thank you for reading!

Tell me, Reader, what are you reading this week? Comment below!

I hope I have inspired you to pursue your dreams and that you will stick around to see how my journey turns out!

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