I love Peggy Guggenheim. At 21, she inherited a fortune of 2.5 million dollars. This would be roughly 20 million in today’s money. I guess NYC was provincial and boring and she became enamored with the members of the bohemian artistic community. In 1920 she went to live in Paris. Once there, she became friendly with avant-garde writers and artists, like Man Ray, Constantin Brancusi and Marcel Duchamp.
Yeah, she married a bunch of times, made some bonehead financial choices, and generally flailed around like the rest of us do. Her famous uncle and aunt thought she was crazy. But she amassed an incredible art collection by trusting her gut and promoting her friends. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of the most important museums in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the 20th century. But what you might not know is that she lived and breathed with her art collection; paintings leaned against moldy walls in her bathroom, jammed up several deep against peeling walls in her living room. She had passion for her collection and passion for the friends who created them. And by the way, Guggenheim agreed to donate her collection to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation upon her death (remember the uncle who thought she was crazy?) on the condition that the collection would remain intact in Venice and would be recognized as hers. Got that, hers.
I’m no Peggy Guggenheim. I’m certainly no Man Ray, Brancusi or Duchamp. But I’ve got a little of Peggy’s hutzpa and I’ve got the talent and drive God gave me. So when I doubt what I am doing or where I might be headed, I think of Peggy.