Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hodgepodge 158/365 - Peggy Guggenheim

This afternoon (after a rainy morning in) I took myself across the Grand Canal and to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, as the museum of twentieth-century art housed in her eighteenth-century palazzo is called. It is her personal collection of contemporary art, and it surrounded her in a very living way—though she also treated her palazzo, which she bought in 1947, as something of a museum, opening the collection to the public for three days a week while she decamped to the roof to sunbathe. I did not (and still do not) know very much about her, but she sounds like quite a character (her father, Benjamin, died on the Titanic; she is the niece of Solomon Guggenheim of Foundation fame). She is buried in the courtyard of her palazzo, together with her fourteen Lhasa Apsos.

But the art! It's displayed throughout the various living, dining, sleeping, and other rooms of her home, no longer "in situ," though certain pieces of furniture—her dining room set, sideboards—are still in residence. It covers abstraction, cubism, abstract expressionism, futurism, and surrealism, including such artists as Max Ernst (one of Peggy's two husbands), Yves Tanguy (a lover), Jean Arp, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Vasily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Piet Mondrian, Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock (whose career she launched), and Alexander Calder. Yeah. (And yeah: no women artists. Not a one—until we got to the special exhibition of the surrealist Rita Kernn-Larsen, which I did not visit. I don't especially enjoy surrealism.)

Read more about Peggy here and here.

I really liked many of the artworks I saw in her collection. Here are a few. (Some have links to explications.)

Kandinsky, Empor (1929)
Antoine Pevsner, Developable Surface (1938)
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Pharmacy) (ca. 1942)
(I first met Cornell at a special exhibit in Palo Alto,
and I've been thrilled ever since by each encounter.)
Max Ernst, La Toilette de la mariée (1940)
This was the Chagall, but I was just as
entranced by the couple on the couch.
School group!

And on the way to the Guggenheim, I was treated to a little Schubert—delightful!


And then as I wandered to the end of the island, I got to see another way of visiting Venice (not my way):


I finished the afternoon a canal or two over from my apartment, sitting on the Grand Canal with a (plastic) cup of wine and a plate of hors d'oeuvres and my book, soaking in the warmth, every so often looking up to see the boats and the sinking sun and my fellow afternoon enjoyers on our dead-end quay. Hidden corners are the best.


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