In the current noble vogue of admirable female figures in documentaries, now comes Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict by Lisa Immordino Vreeland. Guggenheim may not be news to the art world, but for the rest of us the film might stir wishful nostalgia for a breakthrough time in cultural history -- check out the image of Guggenheim in an exotic dress, as photographed by Man Ray. It also offers some hints on how to meet the right people at the right time for your career. And, oh yeah, sex and how some artists were in bed.
"I was the midwife to modern art," Guggenheim asserts. That's a big claim, but it is verifiable that she put together the core collection of modern art for $40,000 (now worth billions). Though she died at 81 in 1979, a "live" -- never eerie -- Q&A is the spine for the doc as Guggenheim herself answers questions, sometimes even correcting, in her tart and witty style, what might have been a haze of hagiography.
Guggenheim visited Paris in 1921 and stayed, finding her spiritual home in the café society of bohemia, soaking in Dadaism and making contact with Joyce, Pound, Stein, and a man -- writer Laurence Vail -- she bedded, and whose brain she picked for ideas. At forty, she opened her Guggenheim Jeune gallery in London, boldly exhibiting Kandinsky, Dalí, Man Ray, Henry Moore, and others who were considered oddities, if not "rubbish." The doc suggests that cubism and surrealism spoke to her own sense of strangeness. Finally settling the loaded question of who really made these picks, Guggenheim credits lists put together by Marcel Duchamp and critic Herbert Read."Very clever of me, wasn’t it?" she asks.