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“Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict,” Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s sleek, entertaining portrait of the collector and gallerist who assembled one of the great troves of Modern art, cannot be accused of hagiography. From curators to historians to biographers, art world denizens describe Guggenheim’s flaws and failings: She had no formal training; she used art to promote herself; she was a narcissist. And that’s just in the first five minutes.
After some Guggenheim family history, Ms. Vreeland tracks the
heiress, hungry for a crowd of her own, on her travels: In
bohemian Paris in the ’20s, she fell in with the Dadaists; in
London, she opened the Guggenheim Jeune gallery, credited with
introducing Britain to Modern art; returning to New York, she
opened the gallery Art of This Century,
giving first shows to seemingly every major Abstract
As a collector, Guggenheim was shrewd, learning from her cohort — Marcel Duchamp, an early lover, “was my great, great teacher” — and going where the art was. In wartime Paris, for example, she bought the core of her collection cheaply from artists desperate to sell. As a personality, she was difficult — her memoir described many affairs — and she eventually moved to Venice, buying a palazzo and making a museum of her works.
Ms. Vreeland has paced her documentary well, a chapter to each era, with hundreds of beautiful images spanning decades of artists, galleries, parties, scenes. She also makes good use of interviews Guggenheim gave to a biographer a couple of years before her death in 1979. On those tapes, she reveals little, but her clipped, rushed manner, so offputting to some, seems reasonable after a lifetime of being underestimated.— Daniel M. Gold, New York Times
Tue April 12, 2016, 7:30 only, Muenzinger Auditorium
USA, 2015, English, Color/BW, 96 min, 1.85:1, NR, DP • official site