Peggy Guggenheim: Her Life and Legacy

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Duration 01:05:41

Courtauld Institute of Art

Jacky Klein is an art historian and Associate Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art master’s program. She previously worked as a curator at several leading London galleries (including the Tate), and is the author of a bestselling book on British artist Grayson Perry and co-author of several other titles, including Alfred Cohen: An American Artist in Europe, Body of Art, and What is Contemporary Art? She lectures each year in Venice on Peggy Guggenheim and leads tours of her art collection at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni.




How did the socialite and muse, Peggy Guggenheim, become one of the greatest collectors in the history of modern art? Friends with the leading cultural figures of her day – including Jean Cocteau, Scott Fitzgerald, Ian Fleming, Marlon Brando, Louise Bourgeois and Igor Stravinsky – she was photographed by Man Ray and Lee Miller, took advice from Marcel Duchamp, and married the artist Max Ernst (among others). She moved with ease between the social elites of New York and the bohemia of Paris. In this lecture, art historian Jacky Klein will reveal why – seemingly out of the blue – Guggenheim started collecting contemporary art in the 1930s; what impact her galleries in London and New York had on artists and the wider art world; how and why her name became inextricably linked with the city of Venice; and ultimately, how a New York heiress played such a pivotal role in the making of mid-century Modernism.


Suggested Reading:

Mistress of Modernism: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim, by Mary V. Dearborn

Peggy Guggenheim: The Life of an Art Addict, by Anton Gill

Out of This Century: The Autobiography of Peggy Guggenheim, by Peggy Guggenheim

Peggy Guggenheim: The Shock of the Modern, by Francine Prose

Peggy Guggenheim: A Celebration, by Karole Vail and Thomas Messner — exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York


Discussion Questions:

  1. In what ways did Peggy Guggenheim’s early life shape her career as a collector and gallerist?
  2. Was Peggy Guggenheim’s use of art advisors a sign of weakness or strength in your view?
  3. How did Guggenheim use her relationships with male artists to advance her collection? Was it a successful tactic?
  4. What role did personal and family tragedy play in Guggenheim’s life and how did it affect her career?
  5. Guggenheim was one of the earliest and most important women collectors. In what ways do you think her gender helped or hindered her career?





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Peggy Guggenheim

Fabulose lecture.
I hope there will be many more from Jacky Klein

2 years ago
Joy Morros

Really great. Clearly presented and fascinating.

2 years ago
Sylvia Rosas

P. G comes alive —Excellent!

Enjoyed the lecture very much. Very well organized and energetically presented.

2 years ago
marianne bernsen

Nicely done.

2 years ago
Phyllis Greenblatt

Peggy Guggenheim.

Clear, concise and fascinating lecture. Thank you, Jacky Klein

2 years ago
barbara ann.fields

Interesting and informative

It is interesting to learn of the beginnings and influences in those who have shaped what we are exposed to in art galleries today.

2 years ago

Knowledgeable lecture about a fascinating influential person

Peggy Guggenheim is well known, mostly for her great art collection in Venice, and her family’s museum in NYC. But most of us don’t know much else about her and it’s a shame—she was both a fascinating person for her time, or any time, and also extremely ingluential in introducing European modern art to North America and post-war modern art to Europe. Interesting lecture about a woman who was both a rebel and an art pioneer.

1 year ago
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