19 October 2009

Peggy Guggenheim: Mistress of Modernism

Peggy Guggenheim came from a family of rich Jewish business people who had made fortunes as immigrants in the nineteenth century from trade, mining, and eventually banking. Her father was a womaniser who died aboard the Titanic in 1913 - putting on his dinner clothes to go down in style. When she was nineteen she inherited five million dollars, though as Mary Dearborn points out in this fairly even-handed biography, everybody assumed that she had even more, and couldn't understand that by Guggenheim standards she came from a 'poor' side of the family. The first thing she spent the money on was an operation to reduce the size of her nose. The procedure went badly wrong and had to be aborted, leaving her worse off than before. In 1921 she married Franco-American Laurence Vail, who introduced her to Bohemian life in the Latin Quarter and in Montparnasse. She also met two of his ex-lovers who were to become lifelong friends - Mary Reynolds and Djuna Barnes. Her marriage (the first of many) was a mixture of restless Bohemianism and physical abuse from her husband... Read more >>


No comments: