26.8.11

Peggy Guggenheim: Mistress of Modernism

Steve King revisits Dearborn's 2004 biography
Mary V. Dearborn, Mistress of Modernism: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim
Steve King takes a look at Mary V. Dearborn's biography of Peggy Guggenheim, Mistress of Modernism, over at Daybook:
Dearborn's book begins midstream, with a snapshot of Guggenheim in Portugal in 1941, at a turning point in her adventurous life and in the life of transatlantic culture. The Germans are advancing behind her, threatening to close the door on her escape back to America after two decades in Europe. Her art collection—dozens of modernist works, recently purchased on her "regime to buy one picture a day"—was already on the high seas (barring a rumored encounter with a German U-boat). Assembled about her, or eagerly awaiting her arrival in New York, was her shifting gallery of husbands, lovers, friends, artists, writers, and personalities: Kay Boyle, Laurence Vail, Max Ernst, AndrĂ© Breton, and others. Nazis avoided and the passports in place, Guggenheim and her group flew to America on the most luxurious of the Pan Am Clipper "flying boats"—old-world, white-glove service for the woman who helped create the "heady mix of cross-pollination and creative collaboration out of which came abstract expressionism, and which saw the center of the art world move from Paris to New York City." Her Art of This Century Gallery opened just a year after her return, showcasing her European works, giving a young Jackson Pollock his first one-man show, and becoming one of the most influential showplaces of midcentury modernism. [Read More]