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A patron of art since the 1930s, Peggy Guggenheim, in a candid self-portrait, provides an insider's view of the early days of modern art, with revealing accounts of her eccentric wealthy family, her personal and professional relationships, and often surprising portrayals of the artists themselves. Here is a book that captures a valuable chapter in the history of modern art A patron of art since the 1930s, Peggy Guggenheim, in a candid self-portrait, provides an insider's view of the early days of modern art, with revealing accounts of her eccentric wealthy family, her personal and professional relationships, and often surprising portrayals of the artists themselves. Here is a book that captures a valuable chapter in the history of modern art, as well as the spirit of one of its greatest advocates. 13 photos.


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A patron of art since the 1930s, Peggy Guggenheim, in a candid self-portrait, provides an insider's view of the early days of modern art, with revealing accounts of her eccentric wealthy family, her personal and professional relationships, and often surprising portrayals of the artists themselves. Here is a book that captures a valuable chapter in the history of modern art A patron of art since the 1930s, Peggy Guggenheim, in a candid self-portrait, provides an insider's view of the early days of modern art, with revealing accounts of her eccentric wealthy family, her personal and professional relationships, and often surprising portrayals of the artists themselves. Here is a book that captures a valuable chapter in the history of modern art, as well as the spirit of one of its greatest advocates. 13 photos.

30 review for Confessions of an Art Addict

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bibliophile

    Whether you'll enjoy Peggy Guggenheim's autobiography or not depends on what you're after. If you want deep insight into her life and reflections on art, you're bound to be disappointed. If you enjoy reading about rich, eccentric bohemians gallivanting around Europe in the first half of the century, forever hunting for summer houses, you're in luck. Guggenheim is not a gifted writer, and some may find her prose off-putting. I found her laconic delivery amusing, intentional or not. Every shocking Whether you'll enjoy Peggy Guggenheim's autobiography or not depends on what you're after. If you want deep insight into her life and reflections on art, you're bound to be disappointed. If you enjoy reading about rich, eccentric bohemians gallivanting around Europe in the first half of the century, forever hunting for summer houses, you're in luck. Guggenheim is not a gifted writer, and some may find her prose off-putting. I found her laconic delivery amusing, intentional or not. Every shocking, shattering thing is presented with the same matter-of-fact tone. On her childhood: My childhood was excessively unhappy: I have no pleasant memories of any kind. On her father drowning on the Titanic: From then on we avoided the White Star Line like the plague. On her violent first husband who beat her up regularly: I was taken by the shoulders and hurled against the wall. I did not in the least relish this treatment because I was pregnant again. You get the picture. There are also many interesting, awkward and cringeworthy tidbits about famous artists and writers. Hilariously, she mentions that her editor completely rewrote the book (the first one, this is a combination of one published in the sixties and another tracking her later years) so that she had to put everything back the way it was. She does not come across well. If this is due to lack of self-awareness or not giving a damn, I couldn't tell.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lavinia

    Being in the proximity of Modernism feels like a backstage pass to your favourite band's gig. Which is kind of awesome. I was quite intrigued by Peggy's life and choice of men, but I eventually arrived at the conclusion that one mustn't say too much about other people's memoirs and definitely mustn't judge based on their own value system. So there you are: if you're into Cubism, Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism, give it a try and don't be too harsh on her. Being in the proximity of Modernism feels like a backstage pass to your favourite band's gig. Which is kind of awesome. I was quite intrigued by Peggy's life and choice of men, but I eventually arrived at the conclusion that one mustn't say too much about other people's memoirs and definitely mustn't judge based on their own value system. So there you are: if you're into Cubism, Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism, give it a try and don't be too harsh on her.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Hevel

    I have mixed feeling about this book. Someone who led the life Peggy Guggenheim led, living through two wars, moving between France, Italy, England, and America, and mixing with so many well-known writers and artists has to have been an interesting person with an interesting life. And while the first half of the book kept my interest as it went on I became a bit annoyed by what started to just seem like a laundry list of events and people without much explanation or introspection. Things like, " I have mixed feeling about this book. Someone who led the life Peggy Guggenheim led, living through two wars, moving between France, Italy, England, and America, and mixing with so many well-known writers and artists has to have been an interesting person with an interesting life. And while the first half of the book kept my interest as it went on I became a bit annoyed by what started to just seem like a laundry list of events and people without much explanation or introspection. Things like, "I created a scene" and "Finally he left me because I created so many scenes". What kinds of scenes? About what? Where? When? On the plus side, there were times when her understatement and honesty made me laugh. I did finish the book because I was curious about these people and wanted to know how their lives progressed. The final chapters did rescue it somewhat; the author added them years after the initial publication to update the memoir, and they did serve to humanize her. Recommended if you are interested in the period and the personalities. Not recommended if you are looking for a great piece of writing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Micol

    Peggy Guggenheim is no doubt a fascinating person who lived an amazingly interesting life. I loved hearing about her relationships with famous artists and all the drama in her life (there is an extreme abundance of drama). It started to get a bit gossipy to me and I rolled my eyes quite a bit at the immature and bad behavior (which is a lot). I'm glad I read it. It could use some editing. Peggy Guggenheim is no doubt a fascinating person who lived an amazingly interesting life. I loved hearing about her relationships with famous artists and all the drama in her life (there is an extreme abundance of drama). It started to get a bit gossipy to me and I rolled my eyes quite a bit at the immature and bad behavior (which is a lot). I'm glad I read it. It could use some editing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jasmina

    This read like a phone book of who Peggy G came into contact with in her long life. And while some of it was super interesting - well, it took me a week to read less than 200 pages. Says a lot, doesn’t it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mathieu Ravier

    This at first reads - irritatingly - like the diary of a rich spoilt brat, and Peggy Guggenheim's behaviour (think drinking champagne at cafe terraces while refugees stream into Paris fleeing the nazis) is at times shocking. At the same time this obsession with personal freedom makes her a subversive figure. Going against the expectations imposed on women in the 30s and 40s, she forged her own path (and yes, the money helped a great deal). This autobiography, written mostly in the 40s (with post This at first reads - irritatingly - like the diary of a rich spoilt brat, and Peggy Guggenheim's behaviour (think drinking champagne at cafe terraces while refugees stream into Paris fleeing the nazis) is at times shocking. At the same time this obsession with personal freedom makes her a subversive figure. Going against the expectations imposed on women in the 30s and 40s, she forged her own path (and yes, the money helped a great deal). This autobiography, written mostly in the 40s (with postscripts in 1960 and again just before her death in 1979), is highly entertaining and somehow devoid of pretension. This latter quality goes a long way towards excusing the rather pedestrian prose. But what a life! Her contribution to modern art is staggering, as a dealer and collector and a champion of artists (she discovered Jackson Pollock and , arguably, Lucien Freud). With lovers like Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp, and friends like Truman Capote, Andre Breton, Man Ray and Joseph Losey, the juicy anecdotes keep coming. What makes this book special is that these accounts of the colourful lives of expat or refugee artists in 1940s France were written in the thick of it, without the full benefit of historical hindsight.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    Peggy Guggenheim led a rich and interesting life. Although, to her regret, her formal education did not extend beyond high school, she more than compensated for that deficiency by reading widely, traveling extensively, and immersing herself in a culture of writers and artists, many of whose careers she launched or significantly advanced. The list of her friends / acquaintances / husbands / lovers is formidable, including (to mention just a very few) Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Man Ray, Marcel D Peggy Guggenheim led a rich and interesting life. Although, to her regret, her formal education did not extend beyond high school, she more than compensated for that deficiency by reading widely, traveling extensively, and immersing herself in a culture of writers and artists, many of whose careers she launched or significantly advanced. The list of her friends / acquaintances / husbands / lovers is formidable, including (to mention just a very few) Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Henry Moore, Salvador Dalí, Yves Tanguy, Jackson Pollock, John Cage, and Max Ernst. Although Peggy's surname is generally associated with extraordinary wealth, her father's early death as a passenger on the Titanic yielded an inheritance that -- while substantial -- was considerably less than the fortunes amassed by other members of the Guggenheim family. Accordingly, her occasional complaints about not having money for certain expenses may have had some justification. Even so, she accumulated an astonishing personal collection of art works many of which eventually graced her splendid home, a Venetian palazzo that is now a museum. One photo shows her standing in front of a Picasso painting, above which hangs a Calder mobile, and below which is a table supporting a Giacometti sculpture. Despite owning and managing a couple of galleries at different times (one in London and one in New York City), Peggy Guggenheim did not view art collecting primarily as a commercial enterprise; toward the end of her book she complains that "the entire art movement had become an enormous business venture. Only a few persons really cared for paintings. The rest bought them from snobbishness or to avoid taxation. . . . Painters whose work I had sold with difficulty for six hundred dollars now received twelve thousand." Guggenheim's sexual attitudes were well ahead of their time, and marriage (her own or someone else's) constituted no impediment to consummation when mutual attraction was present. If the sixties had needed a role model, she could have provided it. In her book she names the names of paramours, and offers sometimes startling reflections ("I am furious when I think of all the men who have slept with me while thinking of other men who have slept with me before."). She is also candid while describing, quite unselfconsciously, episodes of physical abuse that she endured from several partners -- one sphere in which wealth evidently affords no differentiation from what ordinary people experience. Unfortunately, the life of this fascinating and multi-faceted woman deserves a much better account than she herself has written. Out of This Century, which is actually a combination of two originally-separate works, is a dutiful chronology, based apparently on diary entries, but the prose is one-dimensional and generally boring. Moreover, the book is padded with material that adds nothing of interest or substance. The following, not-atypical passage illustrates both deficiencies: "Here I gave a lot of dinner parties. I cooked the dinners myself with the help of Fanny, Mary's maid, who came to me daily. Nellie hated my home, she said there was no place to hang pictures. Nevertheless I managed to place all the smaller ones. The big ones had to remain in storage, where I could see then whenever I wanted." Lacking a capable editor, Out of This Century is perhaps best approached by perusing the index for interesting entries (of which there are many) and jumping right to those pages. That will catch the main themes while avoiding a lot of tedium.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I've visited the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice 3 times over the pass 15 years! I think its one of my favourite museums. So its easy to say I admire Peggy, the museum and her love for collecting art. So I finally read her book after visiting the museum in the summer of 2014 and I could not put the book down! I was in awe of her luxurious life - not always in a good way though - she was very rich, had no boundaries, naive and spoiled - at the same time very giving. She was a rebel. It was intr I've visited the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice 3 times over the pass 15 years! I think its one of my favourite museums. So its easy to say I admire Peggy, the museum and her love for collecting art. So I finally read her book after visiting the museum in the summer of 2014 and I could not put the book down! I was in awe of her luxurious life - not always in a good way though - she was very rich, had no boundaries, naive and spoiled - at the same time very giving. She was a rebel. It was intriguing to read about her sexual appetite and her group of 'artist' friends. However, she did amazing work for the art world and helped so many artist such as Max Ernest, Jackson Pollock and other abstract and Surrealism artist from the 20th century. I think she deserves credit just for that itself, considering this was between the 1920's-1950's. And thanks to her museum collection, she was the one to introduce me to surrealism, Max Ernest at the age of 19 years old. Further, it was great reading about her travels, adventures through Europe, specially if you've been around, France, Switzerland, Italy and so on, though how the roads and scenery must of been back then, before WWIl...Worth reading it you're an art lover (20th century art) and travelling to Venice!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jia Jung

    Some context, first: at the 2015 TriBeCa Film Festival, I halfheartedly went to see a documentary called "Art Addict" about Peggy Guggenheim. The reason I was lukewarm about going was that all I knew about the Guggenheims were that they were rich and white, and had a hyped up museum where people who annoy me go Instagramming themselves at benefits. I ended up being totally schooled about a woman who, like flapper dresses and the Jazz Age itself, receded from the memory of the general public to t Some context, first: at the 2015 TriBeCa Film Festival, I halfheartedly went to see a documentary called "Art Addict" about Peggy Guggenheim. The reason I was lukewarm about going was that all I knew about the Guggenheims were that they were rich and white, and had a hyped up museum where people who annoy me go Instagramming themselves at benefits. I ended up being totally schooled about a woman who, like flapper dresses and the Jazz Age itself, receded from the memory of the general public to the effect that not a fraction of what she should be credited with doing and creating is properly acknowledged. A member of a branch dangling precariously off of a rather insane family tree, she went as a little girl from great inherited heights to losing her father (who had lost his fortune) in the sinking of the Titanic. Emerging from this beginning, she went on to become a mother and a Bohemian socialite, but then in her early middle life went on to find, curate, popularize, dignify, define, and preserve the canon of modern art as the world knows it. The documentary is emphasized by tape recordings of the last interview she ever gave in life. At one point, the interviewer asks her if she isn't jealous of people's youths as she grows older. Scarcely missing a beat, she replied that she's certainly jealous that they'll continue to live. I burst into tears and stayed there crying in the back of the theater as the credits rolled. Pretty much obsessed, I went and located "Confessions of an Art Addict: Peggy Guggenheim." But as slim as the volume was, I found myself being disappointed that the book just wouldn't take. In June 2018, I found myself in the unlikely situation of going to Venice - the city where she ultimately made her home and the destination of her collection for all perpetuity - for a childhood friend's wedding. I brought my mother, an artist herself, as my companion, and there was no question on our minds that a priority was to visit the Guggenheim collection. But between being bewitched by every random crevice of that city, beguiled by its wild ferry system, and anchored to the romantic and joyous events of the wedding, we barely made to the little museum on a little island on the way we were to leave. We even had all of our luggage with us and checked it in at the building. It would be going too far to say that I was disappointed by the museum, but I had built it up so much in my head only to be most interested in pictures of Peggy Guggenheim herself, which were put up in small frames in more inferior locations, like a stuffy hallway by the restrooms. There in the gift hall, I found this book. I'm very careful about the condition of my books, and this paperback had that glossy, heavy look that made me debate whether or not I couldn't just order it from somewhere once back in the United States. Besides, shouldn't I finish her smaller biography? After some hemming and hawing, I bought it, and then took nearly a year to start it, taking care at all times not to dogear the cover or crack the spine while running all around the tunnels and throngs of New York City reading it. And what can I say, this book really did it for me. I think it makes sense because this is the original autobiography that she later condensed into that other little book I couldn't get through, PLUS a reverent foreward by Gore Vidal, the latter half of what she wrote at age 80, and an introduction that she wrote to a book about the city of Venice. It's the most whole version of her life story I know of, straight from the source. There's been a lot of criticism from the haters who find the autobiography of Peggy, or her very life, to be insultingly frivolous, insensitive, name-dropping, or what-have-you. There are certainly criticisms about how her writing lacks style or magic. I (obviously) disagree with these criticisms. She does a hell of a job packing in details of world travels, social evolution, eras of style and thought, and her own eccentric life surrounded by eccentric people, all while sounding like an actual normal person. At all times, she is completely transparent, raw, and self-aware, for instance, admitting that she was looking for fathers in men, talking about her abortion, and sharing how she retrospectively can't believe how she lounged about drinking wine in cafes with a lover while World War II refugees, casualties, and even concentration camp victims were transported by the trainload through Paris, which was being bombed by the Germans but not wallowing despicably in guilt after all is said and done. And let's remember that she used her money (or whatever, her family's money) to preserve the paintings that millions go to worship in safety all over the planet, and save the lives of every artist or creative in her circles who she could. And she never talks up her good deeds unless maybe someone does her dirty without a glimmer of thanks. Like Hemingway, she just relates things in clipped, simple language, whether it be descriptions, emotions, thoughts, or happenings. This allows the tales of her life and her times to be told at a pace that really pulls you along on her coattails. I always hated to stop the momentum and spent a couple of nights outside my commute time just reading to satisfy the itch of wondering what would come next, to quench the desire just to read her voice. To hear her off the page and past the grave. Even as a poorer Guggenheim, she was pretty much filthy rich. But her life story is a glaring example of how action and art, not money, bought her swaths of of happiness and triumph in an unbelievably eventful life. It is easy to see that what money did do was to enable her to live like a man, fully and without fear or reproach, even while suffering everything like all women. It's entirely to her own credit, however, that she was of a force of will with the character, bravery, and sense of adventure to maximize her station in life unapologetically, and cleverly. Any time that she made poor decisions, it was always in the name of some passion or another, and my god, she had game - it seems that she slept with every great artist, writer, and intellectual spanning a half of a century. And it was fine because she lived outside the box, making today's polyamory proselytizers look like vanilla. And she did show her grit time and time again in periods of emotional abandonment, personal loss, and even bankruptcy...plus a whole lot of domestic violence from her cavalier comments of the husbands and lovers who often threw her into walls, slapped her face, threw whiskey in her eyes... Here are some choice zinger that are but splashes in the pan of her burning bright existence: "But then I am not the kind of person to accept anything as it is. I always think I can change the situation. The incredible thing is that I never believe in failure, and no one can convince me that I cannot move mountains or stop the tide until I have proved to myself that I can't." "I hate men who criticize me without dominating me." "I much preferred my modest barchessa in Venice, and for the first time I did not regret the enormous fortune I had lost when my father left his brothers to go into his own business, a few years before he was drowned on the Titanic." "In fact, I do not like art today. I think it has gone to hell, as a result of the financial attitude." "I consider it one's duty to protect the art of one's time." It's awful when I hear a person of this magnitude reduced to "a Guggenheim," "a socialite," or, most boring of all, a "patron of the arts." She was more than that - she was a visionary. She was a leader and guard of her times. In being so much herself, she did the selfless thing and left beauty in her eternal wake, whether or not anyone knows or respects that she was the source. And she was goddamn interesting...and interested. Even those who don't have any such rapturous feelings about Peggy Guggenheim can probably enjoy this book very much at face value. And in the special appendix, those who have been to Venice will be rewarded both with chills and fuzzy feelings at how well she describes the place - and how little it's apparently changed at its watery core.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Darya Conmigo

    Such an entertaining and lively read. What I love is the tone where every objective difficulty (such as, ahem, World War II) is either an adventure or a silly thing that keeps Peggy from opening yet another gallery or organizing the next show. Art in the broad sense is what matters the most. You can read it as a gossip column about the artists and art of the century (pun intended). And you will be right. Or you can read it as an account of an extraordinary human life. And you will be right, undou Such an entertaining and lively read. What I love is the tone where every objective difficulty (such as, ahem, World War II) is either an adventure or a silly thing that keeps Peggy from opening yet another gallery or organizing the next show. Art in the broad sense is what matters the most. You can read it as a gossip column about the artists and art of the century (pun intended). And you will be right. Or you can read it as an account of an extraordinary human life. And you will be right, undoubtedly.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kate Lawrence

    During WWI, while still in her teens, Guggenheim inherited $450,000--a LOT of money at the time. Given that she knew and supported many famous artists, traveled widely, and lived a highly unconventional life, her recounting of it is understated, somewhat detached, as though she doesn't expect it to be particularly interesting to readers. She deeply grieved some major losses: of her father on the Titanic, a long-time lover due to medical incompetence, and a friend in a car accident. The lasting lo During WWI, while still in her teens, Guggenheim inherited $450,000--a LOT of money at the time. Given that she knew and supported many famous artists, traveled widely, and lived a highly unconventional life, her recounting of it is understated, somewhat detached, as though she doesn't expect it to be particularly interesting to readers. She deeply grieved some major losses: of her father on the Titanic, a long-time lover due to medical incompetence, and a friend in a car accident. The lasting loves of her life were her Lhasa dogs, her home in Venice, and of course collecting modern art, which left a priceless legacy for future generations. I also watched the 2015 documentary "Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict" which I liked better than the book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dan Dumitrescu

    It's interesting to know how the modern art of the XX century got support from a "poor" jewish lady from two very rich and well connected families. Maybe Jackson Pollock own's her his success and other american artists their mischance. But I would not rely on her art authority as she explain in the book that among all the seven tragedies of her life some were that she didn't bought a Miro or a Picasso when they where cheap, that she sold a Kandinsky because her friends told her that that painting It's interesting to know how the modern art of the XX century got support from a "poor" jewish lady from two very rich and well connected families. Maybe Jackson Pollock own's her his success and other american artists their mischance. But I would not rely on her art authority as she explain in the book that among all the seven tragedies of her life some were that she didn't bought a Miro or a Picasso when they where cheap, that she sold a Kandinsky because her friends told her that that painting is was not "de bon ton" and the most fascinating of all her tragedies is that she gave away 18 painting of Pollock, which for me it raises questions about how much she really appreciated him.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Allie

    Peggy Guggenheim had a fascinating life, and this, her autobiography is a quick and entertaining read, filled with interesting anecdotes about her artist friends, including Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, and many others. Her collection and her palazzo in Venice is one of my favorite places in Europe and so I really enjoyed reading more about it. She is important part of the history of 20th century art.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Noits

    I abandoned, rather than 'finished' this book, which is a rare thing for me to do but the juvenile naivety of the writing was like gall to my brain! I have a deep fascination with the art world, with the way art collections are personally curated and I love the Guggenheim legacy but not even that passion could drive me to carry on reading. I'll get a more objective biography next time ... this one just didn't cut it. I abandoned, rather than 'finished' this book, which is a rare thing for me to do but the juvenile naivety of the writing was like gall to my brain! I have a deep fascination with the art world, with the way art collections are personally curated and I love the Guggenheim legacy but not even that passion could drive me to carry on reading. I'll get a more objective biography next time ... this one just didn't cut it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Judith Guajardo

    Shallow The story of a very shallow, insecure woman. Merely a list of acquaintances, lovers, and where they all travelled and slept.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ana Cretiu

    Inspiring, on a personal level.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I should have done some research before tackling this mess of a memoir. This is the third iteration of Miss Guggenheim’s reminiscences. The first three hundred or so pages were published in 1946 as 'Out Of This Century' and badly received. Time wrote: “Stylistically her book is as flat and witless as a harmonica rendition of "Liebestod”. This is, in my opinion, an insult to the harmonica. The writing is disjointed, fragmentary, chaotic. And bóóóóring. The main subjects are her travels (but she ha I should have done some research before tackling this mess of a memoir. This is the third iteration of Miss Guggenheim’s reminiscences. The first three hundred or so pages were published in 1946 as 'Out Of This Century' and badly received. Time wrote: “Stylistically her book is as flat and witless as a harmonica rendition of "Liebestod”. This is, in my opinion, an insult to the harmonica. The writing is disjointed, fragmentary, chaotic. And bóóóóring. The main subjects are her travels (but she has nothing to say about anything she visits apart from some banal generalisations), houses, hotels and parties. Before publication, her editor at Dial Press mercifully rewrote the book extensively. Ms Guggenheim: “I had to put most things back the way I had originally written them”. In 1960 there was a second go, and she wisened up a little: she condensed the 1946 mess to less than a hundred pages and added fifty pages or so about her later life in Venice. Although I didn’t see this edition, titled 'Confessions of an Art Addict', it must be preferable to this, the third and unfortunately complete and unabridged effort published in 1979. Even if it were equally bad, at least it is way shorter. I read this book hoping Ms Guggenheim would have something interesting to say about art or at least about the many artists she knew well – she had a fling with most of the male ones, married or not. No such luck. Her writing is so bad it is often not clear what exactly happened in the - granted, sometimes titillating - scenes she describes. She often contradicts herself. She uses “of course” and “naturally” very often, usually to introduce clauses that are not obvious at all, a sure sign logic is not her strong suit. She is at times snootily snobbish, sometimes just plain mean. This is her on Dorothea Tanning, the woman Max Ernst would marry after divorcing her, who was by most accounts a beautiful, intelligent and elegant woman and a fine artist: “pretentious, boring, stupid, vulgar and dressed in the worst possible taste”. Most amazingly, there is not one insightful word about art to be found here. She mentions several times that renaissance art and old masters are really her thing, but keeps shtum on the subject. She admits that when she opened her art gallery in London she knew next to nothing about modern art: Marcel Duchamp had to explain the difference between Surrealist and Abstract art to her. And at the end of her life she wrote “I do not like art today. I think it has gone to hell.” If I hated this book so much, why the second star? In part because some of its lines are unintentionally funny (“After the guests would leave, I went around with a bottle of Lysol. I was so afraid of getting a venereal disease”). In part because some guilty pleasure is to be had from reading about the shenanigans of these promiscuous, filthy rich pseudo-bohemians (Ms Guggenheim’s version of bohemianism was living in the Plaza-Athenée when in Paris, driving a Hispano-Suiza and buying a palazzo in Venice). But mostly because I learned one important lesson about modern art from this book: you do not need brains or taste to become a famous art collector, only lots and lots of money.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Martina

    Well,… It’s a book that needs to be read. And then you will have to build your own opinion about it. At the bottom line it will all depend on how openminded you already were before you started reading. The book is not always coherent, but it’s always concise. It isn’t especially pretty, nor is it very skilfully written. It was compiled over a very long period of time and patched together from excerpts of three very different texts and phases of Peggy Guggenheim’s life. Therefore, as an almost un Well,… It’s a book that needs to be read. And then you will have to build your own opinion about it. At the bottom line it will all depend on how openminded you already were before you started reading. The book is not always coherent, but it’s always concise. It isn’t especially pretty, nor is it very skilfully written. It was compiled over a very long period of time and patched together from excerpts of three very different texts and phases of Peggy Guggenheim’s life. Therefore, as an almost unintended bonus, it very nicely features the personal development of one particular American woman in Europe throughout the peaks of artistic developments in the 20th century Europe and the USA. To gain a bit more objective perspective on the text, it could help one to keep in mind throughout the entire read that these are the experiences of an American tourist in a foreign universe. As such, Peggy Guggenheim accomplished almost impossible, above all not for herself but for almost every single one of the “super starts” of the modern art. At her own expense — financially, emotionally, socially fully and truly only at her own expense. Her text is blunt. Because, it seems obvious, the woman was more than anything else daring and blunt. Consequently, being a woman and being brutally genuine was not a very smart thing to be in the 20th century. How acceptable it became exactly 100 years later in 2020, is probably still open to a debate. But one thing is sure — being a blunt woman who is not only wishing but actually really doing all the same things fully equally and together with the boys, one thing you will most definitely not gain yourself this way: appreciation. For this Peggy will still have to wait for some more facts & truths loving times to come. Even if she’d had somehow miraculously wanted to, her social status and all that came with it left by side, just by her sheer character she was probably the last person in the modernist 20th century art universe who’d be able to tell you some romanticised bullshit version of a (hi)story of modern art. This thing was not her fun, it was her life. But we love our romanticised crap so dearly still and so much! ;-) Therefore — good luck Peggy Guggenheim & happy reading who ever picks up this book! love, m

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Brown

    NIce To Hear Her Thought Process Who was Peggy Guggenheim? Personally, all I had until this read was a vague understanding that as a Guggenheim heir she contributed a lot to the art world. Pretty vague, no? Well, that's a lot more than many contemporary artists will come up with. In fact I mentioned this book to quite a successful modern artist and his response was, "She was pretty crazy, right?" Crazy, not when you read her writing, she wasn't. She had an amazingly open mind about what art is and NIce To Hear Her Thought Process Who was Peggy Guggenheim? Personally, all I had until this read was a vague understanding that as a Guggenheim heir she contributed a lot to the art world. Pretty vague, no? Well, that's a lot more than many contemporary artists will come up with. In fact I mentioned this book to quite a successful modern artist and his response was, "She was pretty crazy, right?" Crazy, not when you read her writing, she wasn't. She had an amazingly open mind about what art is and what it ought to be. Amazing especially because her family, wealthy though it was, hadn't really given her much of an education in it. So I think what we have here is the liberating effect that vast wealth can inspire. I was taken with a kind of simplicity she exudes in her writing. Like a child, she delights in all manner of little things, while simultaneously entertaining the most sophisticated people in the world. She talks about marriages and relationships but never gets too detailed about it. I know her artist daughter Pegeen came to a bad end but as an example, she mentions nothing about her except to say that she collected her work. So, while the book is the interesting there is clearly a lot missing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    Peggy Guggenheim, born with a silver spoon in her mouth, nevertheless led a less than happy childhood. Her father drowned in the Titanic disaster and her mother, obsessed with the social scene in New York, spent very little time with her daughters until they became old enough to be debutantes. A revolving series of nannies and governesses were Peggy's main adult contacts. Before he died, Peggy's father had shown a keen interest in art; he bought a number of paintings over the years. Peggy grew u Peggy Guggenheim, born with a silver spoon in her mouth, nevertheless led a less than happy childhood. Her father drowned in the Titanic disaster and her mother, obsessed with the social scene in New York, spent very little time with her daughters until they became old enough to be debutantes. A revolving series of nannies and governesses were Peggy's main adult contacts. Before he died, Peggy's father had shown a keen interest in art; he bought a number of paintings over the years. Peggy grew up to share that interest and also displayed an excellent aesthetic sense. She became fascinated by Modernism, the art of her contemporaries. In the 1930s, she opened a gallery in Paris where Arp and Ernst, Brancusi and Duchamp, Calder and Tanguy all showed. This memoir of her impressions of these and other artists, her marriages, her fascination with Venice and more fills this little memoir, first published in 1960. For an art historian, it is fascinating stuff.

  21. 5 out of 5

    AJ Flamingo

    ENDS ABRUPTLY I enjoyed this Peggy Guggenheim memoir. Although brief, it condenses her collection into too few pages. She also foretells of the greed of collectors who buy bc the work is expensive. Her position as a “patron” of artists and their work is refreshing in light of today’s market. I didn’t realize it was her uncle’s collection that is the basis for the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright who designed it but died before its opening. She is an incredibly intriguing ENDS ABRUPTLY I enjoyed this Peggy Guggenheim memoir. Although brief, it condenses her collection into too few pages. She also foretells of the greed of collectors who buy bc the work is expensive. Her position as a “patron” of artists and their work is refreshing in light of today’s market. I didn’t realize it was her uncle’s collection that is the basis for the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright who designed it but died before its opening. She is an incredibly intriguing woman; I’ll look for a biography to learn more...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Daphne Simpkins

    I enjoyed this memoir about collecting art by Peggy Guggenheim largely because I don't know much about the art world or her. I wasn't looking for anything specific when I bought the book--just wanted to see what she thought about art and what it was like to live her life. I enjoyed her subtle sense of humor and traveled vicariously with her to Venice, one of my favorite places. So it was a quick, enjoyable read for me. I enjoyed this memoir about collecting art by Peggy Guggenheim largely because I don't know much about the art world or her. I wasn't looking for anything specific when I bought the book--just wanted to see what she thought about art and what it was like to live her life. I enjoyed her subtle sense of humor and traveled vicariously with her to Venice, one of my favorite places. So it was a quick, enjoyable read for me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anca Pirvutoiu

    Many say it's poorely written... and yes, Peggy changes subject, jumps from an idea to another, speaks about people noone knows by now who they are aso aso... yet so refreshingly honest, so much herself, so disarmingly blunt, so merciless honest on herself and such a wonderful insight into the art world of her time. Fascinating. And her story isn't over yet.... she cannot rest in peace until her Venetian Museum will belong again only and only to Peggy's Art Collection... Many say it's poorely written... and yes, Peggy changes subject, jumps from an idea to another, speaks about people noone knows by now who they are aso aso... yet so refreshingly honest, so much herself, so disarmingly blunt, so merciless honest on herself and such a wonderful insight into the art world of her time. Fascinating. And her story isn't over yet.... she cannot rest in peace until her Venetian Museum will belong again only and only to Peggy's Art Collection...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marieke Van dam

    It's an entertaining and fun read. Especially when simultaneously googling images of the art and artists Peggy Guggenheim tells about. It is filled with interesting anecdotes about her art collecting adventures. On the other hand I missed the inner life of her. But I guess that's not really the point of this book. It's an entertaining and fun read. Especially when simultaneously googling images of the art and artists Peggy Guggenheim tells about. It is filled with interesting anecdotes about her art collecting adventures. On the other hand I missed the inner life of her. But I guess that's not really the point of this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jane Blochwitz

    Fun at first, but it's a very shallow "confession" with lots of name-dropping. My take-away from this book is that she had lots of fun with Art and Artists and was terribly disappointed/disheartened by the way Art became a big money investment to many people, and, thus, lost its soul. The Gore Vidal introduction is worth reading. I rather wish he had wrote the whole book. Fun at first, but it's a very shallow "confession" with lots of name-dropping. My take-away from this book is that she had lots of fun with Art and Artists and was terribly disappointed/disheartened by the way Art became a big money investment to many people, and, thus, lost its soul. The Gore Vidal introduction is worth reading. I rather wish he had wrote the whole book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tex

    Not terribly well written. But, it’s a memoir by a collector, not an artist. Peggy Guggenheim was raised in wealth and lived extremely well. Originally an admirer of the Old Masters, she turned to The Moderns in all their variations just before the First World War. The memories of the parties and home visits read like a Who’s Who of the period of art that I admire the most.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book was written entirely from Peggy’s point of view (which can be seen as a rich eccentric bohemian point of view). I guess I was expecting something more “historical” and not so much a diary entry. Overall it was an okay read, but it was sort of hard to feel the want or desire to finish it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    The book is a bit boring in some parts, but overall worth reading to understand better the time and world of very rich people. I was expecting more about art, about artists, more facts to understand modern art, but i did not get it. It was truly the autobiography of Peggy, unfortunately nothing more

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan Tryforos

    Peggy Guggenheim was not the greatest writer, but her life was as unique as her personality. Interesting people abound - celebrities, art world luminaries, literary stars - and Guggenheim is unapologetic about her relationships and dealings with all of them. All in all, a fascinating window onto an incredible time in world history.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pogacean Radu

    I enjoyed this Peggy Guggenheim memoir. This is a book by the lady herself detailing her fascinating upbringing and life. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the development of art in the 20th century. I've enjoyed the name droppings, especially the stories about Brancusi. I recommend reading this book with some jazz in the background and a fancy cocktail in your hand. I enjoyed this Peggy Guggenheim memoir. This is a book by the lady herself detailing her fascinating upbringing and life. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the development of art in the 20th century. I've enjoyed the name droppings, especially the stories about Brancusi. I recommend reading this book with some jazz in the background and a fancy cocktail in your hand.

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