The Sunwise Turn, 51 E 44th St, New York, NY 10017
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Dorsoduro, 701-704, 30123 Venezia VE
Hayford Hall, Buckfastleigh TQ11 0JQ, UK
Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim (August 26, 1898 – December 23, 1979) was an American art collector, bohemian and socialite. Born to the wealthy New York City Guggenheim family, she was the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim, who went down with the Titanic in 1912, and the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who established the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Guggenheim collected art in Europe and America primarily between 1938 and 1946. She exhibited this collection as she built it; in 1949, she settled in Venice, where she lived and exhibited her collection for the rest of her life. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a modern art museum on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, and is one of the most visited attractions in Venice.
The relationships among Djuna Barnes, Emily Coleman, Antonia White, and Peggy Guggenheim were intense, sexually charged, emotionally intricate affairs that were, in turn, hurtful and inspiring, cruel and nurturing. Ultimately, however, these relationships were the most central to their writing. While men came and went in all of their lives, their relationships, replete with emotional brutality, persevered. Barnes called Coleman "a prima vera with blood on her lips", and White sometimes dismissed Coleman as mad. White and Coleman were fond of telling Barnes that she was shallow and couldn't analyze. However, aside from the black eye Coleman once gave Peggy Guggenheim, the most scathing criticism within the group was reserved for White. Barnes lamented to White that although she tried to like her writing, she just couldn't, and went on to tell White that she was a "bad, bad woman".
Barnes, White, and Coleman speak at later points in their lives of having had sex with and being sexually attracted to other women. Djuna Barnes, of course, went on to have more love affairs with women. Emily Coleman would admit "the only genuine sexual feelings I have had were the Lesbian affair I had in 1929". Antonia White similarly later conceded that she desired a woman more than she had ever desired her husband. Among the four, Peggy Guggenheim was perhaps the most determinedly heterosexual. Even she, however, had female lovers throughout her life, including Djuna Barnes's great love, Thelma Wood, an attachment which would certainly seem to have exacerbated tensions between Bames and Guggenheim.
Barnes wrote her best-known novel, Nightwood, while staying at the Devon country house, Hayford Hall, that Guggenheim had rented for two summers.
Peggy Guggenheim by Berenice Abbott
Peggy Guggenheim by Man Ray, 1924
In 1926 Peggy Guggenheim, who often lent her financial support to the Paris colony of artists and writers, telephoned Man Ray to arrange a studio appointment to have her portrait taken, not by Man Ray himself, but by Berenice Abbott. Afterwards Man Ray was livid, he now realized that Berenice had become a serious business rival, and the next day he fired her. Berenice immediately made plans to have a studio of her own and friends of Berenice stepped forward to help her. When she made arrangements to purchase a view camera – Peggy Guggenheim lent her the money to pay for it. As partial repayment, Berenice later photographed Peggy’s children. In 1926, she had her first solo exhibition (in the gallery "Au Sacre du Printemps") and started her own studio on the rue du Bac.
Guggenheim became close friends with writer Natalie Barney and artist Romaine Brooks and was a regular at Barney's salon.
Guggenheim's first marriage was to Laurence Vail, a Dada sculptor and writer who had been Djuna Barnes' lover, and with whom Guggenheim had two children, Michael Cedric Sindbad Vail (1923–1986) and Pegeen Vail Guggenheim (1925–1967). They divorced in about 1928 following his affair with writer Kay Boyle, whom he later married. Soon after her first marriage dissolved, she had an affair with John Ferrar Holms, a writer with writer's block who had been a war hero. Starting in December 1939, she and Samuel Beckett had a brief but intense affair, and he encouraged her to turn exclusively to modern art. She married her second husband, painter Max Ernst, in 1941 and divorced him in 1946. Among her eight grandchildren is Karole Vail, who was appointed director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in 2017.
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