Guggenheim documentary is about more than one woman’s love life


Playing for one week only, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict is one of the most important films you can hope to see this year, and it’s playing at the Lagoon Theatre in Minneapolis.

Through the lens of Guggenheim’s intimate interviews, the audience is given an education on the cultural revolution of the modern art world throughout the course of nearly a century of daring exploits.

In the film, she confides she was molded by men who shaped her opinions on what constitutes good craftsmanship and artwork. Marcel Duchamp, who was a good friend of hers, taught her the difference between surrealism and abstract art. She also had an affair with one artist who, she said, made her more serious–before him she saw everything as trivial.

Peggy Guggenheim photographed by Man Ray in 1924 via Rijksmuseum

Not to be misleading, a good portion of the film highlights her travels from New York to Paris to New York again, then Venice. We get to know who she was as a person, as a lover, and also a somewhat aloof mother, (“We were all bad mothers in those days,” she said.) but there is so much history embedded in this film, that it could be hailed as indoctrination into the whirlwind atmosphere of bohemian dream states that is the life and times of modern artists living and working between 1920 to around 1950.

Much like the Marlon Brandon documentary that I saw some weeks back, there was a lingering taste of sadness around the edges. Although she is portrayed as being a vivacious woman, ravenous about pursuing life with a passion, there is quite a bit of tragedy to her story.

I don’t want to get into the gory details, but her family was so eccentric and so disturbed, that her father, sister, and daughter all died by their own hands. Her other sister, Hazel, took the life of her own children.

Aside from that, the film is so beautifully sculpted, as if it were a piece of art itself. It’s sure to quicken the heartbeat of all lovers of modern art, as you see the early work of Picasso, Dali, Moore, Ernst, Pollock, and more placed on the big screen before you. Some of the featured artwork was even accompanied by voice recordings of the artists’ themselves.

For people who live outside the spectrum of the art world, Guggenheim provided the backbone for a smattering of artists, who depended on her for monetary and emotional support. One of whom was Jackson Pollock, and the film expounded upon him in particular, as she rented a studio for him and him the space and freedom to drink and paint all he liked.

What a ride that must have been! Talk about a life lived to the fullest. Not only did she harbor then abscond with priceless works of art, rescuing them from the clutches of the SS during WWII, Peggy Guggenheim went all in for the love of creativity, spontaneity, the weird, the strange, the dangerous territory that marks the trajectory of the heart. For that, and her tenacity to get everything she ever wanted, she will be remembered for centuries.

Featured image via shair

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