Peggy Guggenheim

The Life of an Art Addict (Anton Gill) (2002)

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (Dir. Lisa Immordino Vreeland)

She was the Art Groupie par excellence, with more passion and panache than learning or taste, but she brought work to the attention of her rich friends and thereby both sustained talent and helped corrupt the art market.  Gill’s work is like a non-fiction Apes of God: bitchy, knowing and a huge laugh.

Palazzo Venier dei Leoni

Palazzo Venier dei Leoni (photo by Peter Haas)

Ms Vreeland, in presenting an essentially linear, coherent, and interesting documentary, has unearthed some biographical material taped in the late 1970s (the subject died in 1979) and padded it nicely with film, photos and interviews with various art figures.  We caught this at a Dendys in Newtown, a sort of Sydney Fitzroy (very funky).


Peggy circa 1937

Mrs. Guggenheim had a surprisingly full and yet incredibly empty life, attended by tragedy, lots of casual sex and, in the arts, vicarious achievement.  Yet her seminal role in putting modern art to the fore in the 1940s and two generations beyond cannot be denied.

Whether that is something to celebrate we leave, politely, to our readers.  For what it is worth, there are only a handful of pieces presented here that can be said to commend themselves to posterity.  Overall, abstract expressionism was not only a wrong turn in the visual arts (a kind of punk movement where alcohol-fuelled, personality-disordered incompetence became a bankable investment, controlled by charlatans), it can be confidently described as a cancerous sphincter in the body of art.  See Mark Rothko (below) if you don’t believe us!Mark_Rothko,_no_name,_1969


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