Peggy Guggenheim

By: Lynn Peril
August 26, 2009

peggy-guggenheim-manray-1924

She had oodles of cash, acres of style, and eventually her very own 18th-century palazzo on Venice’s Grand Canal, where she slept in a sterling silver bed designed by Alexander Calder. There was heartache — her father went down on the Titanic, her favorite sister died in childbirth, and her two marriages ended in divorce — but overall her life was a Who’s Who of the twentieth-century avant garde. PEGGY GUGGENHEIM (1898-1979) was photographed by Man Ray [in 1924, shown above], played tennis with Ezra Pound (“a good player, but he crowed like a rooster whenever he made a good stroke,” she remembered), and paid Jackson Pollock’s living expenses. She left a cavalcade of lovers in her wake, among them Samuel Beckett and the Surrealists Yves Tanguy and Max Ernst (her second husband). Above all, Guggenheim bought artworks. In 1939, armed with a list prepared by art critic Herbert Read, she put herself on “a regime to buy one picture a day” in anticipation of opening a London-based Museum of Modern Art. World War II intervened, so she ended up bequeathing the Picassos, Miros, Ernsts, Magrittes, and Dalis she’d purchased to a museum that she airily described as “my uncle’s garage. That Frank Lloyd Wright thing on Fifth Avenue.”

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Barbara Ehrenreich |

READ MORE about members of the Hardboiled Generation (1894-1903).

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Art, HiLo Heroes