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Art Influencers Peggy Guggenheim
Peggy Guggenheim Photo

Peggy Guggenheim

American Collector and Gallerist

Born: August 26, 1898 - New York, New York

Died: December 23, 1979 - Venice, Italy

Peggy Guggenheim Timeline


"I soon knew where every painting in Europe could be found, and I managed to get there, even if I had to spend hours going to a little country town to see only one."
Peggy Guggenheim
"It isn't in my nature to be afraid."
Peggy Guggenheim
"During the first month of the war, I tried to buy a painting a day."
Peggy Guggenheim
"It's horrible to get old. It's one of the worst things that can happen to you. But I really felt I accomplished what I wanted to do, and I've done it very successfully, and I'm very happy about that."
Peggy Guggenheim
"Peggy Guggenheim was unique. She collected art like nobody else, picking up items that didn't sell, and works for which there was, as yet, no market, just because she loved them. She bought art, not as an investment, but because she saw something that her own eyes told her was great."
John Walsh
"I was thunderstruck, the entire art movement had become an enormous business venture. Only a few persons really care for paintings. The rest buy them from snobbishness or to avoid taxation, presenting pictures to museums and being allowed to keep them until their death, as way of having your cake and eating it. Some painters cannot afford to sell more than a few paintings a year as now they are the people to be taxed. Prices are unheard of. People only buy what is the most expensive having no faith in anything else. Some buy merely for investment, placing pictures in storage without even seeing them, phoning their gallery every day for the latest quotation, as though they were waiting to sell stock."
Peggy Guggenheim
"I do not like art today. I think it has gone to hell as a result of the financial attitude. People blame me for what is painted today because I had encouraged and helped this new movement to be born. I am not responsible...today is the age of collecting, not of creation."
Peggy Guggenheim

"I dedicated myself to my collection. I made it my life's work. I am not an art collector. I am a museum."


Born into relative wealth and into a well-known and powerful family, Peggy Guggenheim harbored an independent streak that led her to create one of the most important collections of modern European and American art. Relying on advisors, including the Dadaist Marcel Duchamp and the anarchist poet and critic Herbert Read, Guggenheim quickly amassed paintings by the most avant-garde European artists before the outbreak of World War II. Her collecting habits continued in the U.S. when she gave the burgeoning Abstract Expressionists the opportunity to exhibit in her Art of this Century Gallery along side their European precursors.

Her love of art and creativity bolstered her own eccentric lifestyle in New York and later in Venice, where her collection is permanently housed. Her dedicated patronage of particular artists, including Jackson Pollock, stood in sharp contrast to later collectors who were looking mostly for investment opportunities. Guggenheim was one of a handful of women, including Betty Parsons and Katherine Dreier, who helped turn the art world's attention to modern art and, more specifically, Abstract Expressionism.

Key Ideas

While armed with the help of knowledgeable advisors, Guggenheim's collecting was based on her felt reaction to the work. She bought what she loved, what drew her in, what was provocative. A bohemian at heart, Guggenheim saw her collection as a creative endeavor and one she wanted to share with the larger public.
A fast learner, Guggenheim was forward thinking with the exhibitions staged at her various galleries. Giving Wassily Kandinsky his first one person show in London, she broadened the appeal of Modern art in Britain, and she was daring enough to give the young Abstract Expressionists some of their first high-level exposure in New York and subsequently in Italy.
Her New York gallery, Art of the Century, was one of a kind with its innovative exhibition practices and gallery spaces. It became a sort of laboratory not only for new, avant-garde art but also for how the viewer physically interacted with works of art and created relationships with them.
In many ways, Guggenheim, like Museum of Modern Art director Alfred Barr, was pivotal in getting so-called "degenerate" art safely out of Europe on the eve of World War II as well as encouraging European artists to wait the war out in the United States.


Peggy Guggenheim Photo


Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim was born on August 26, 1898 in New York into great wealth due to the family's fortune in the mining and smelting industries. Her father, Benjamin Guggenheim, was one of seven sons, his brother being Solomon R. Guggenheim, who were power brokers. Florette Seligman, her mother, came from a family known for both its eccentricities and its social status, as her father was Joseph Seligman, a banker who became the leading national financier in the Civil War era.

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Peggy Guggenheim Biography Continues

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Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Influencer Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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