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Out of This Century: The Autobiography of Peggy Guggenheim [Paperback]

Peggy Guggenheim
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2005
Known as 'the Mistress of modern art', Peggy Guggenheim was a passionate collector and major patron. She amassed one of the most important collections of early 20th century European and American art embracing cubism, surrealism and expressionism. A 'poor little rich girl', (her father, Benjamin, went down with the Titanic in 1912), she was magnetically drawn to the avant-garde artistic community of Paris. She bought works by, and befriended, such artists as Picasso, Duchamp, Man Ray and Dali. In 1938 she opened her first gallery of modern art in London, followed by the 'Art of this Century' gallery in New York. Then, after a 4-year marriage to Max Ernst, she returned to Europe, setting up her collection in Venice where she lived until her death in 1979. This is the fascinating autobiography of a society heiress who became the bohemian doyenne of the art world. Written in her own words it is the frank and outspoken story of her life and loves: her stormy relationships with such men as Max Ernst and Jackson Pollock, of artistic discoveries and the excitement of promoting great work. A must read for anyone with an interest in these major league artists, this seminal period of art history, and the ultimate self-invented woman.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Andre Deutsch Ltd; New edition edition (1 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0233001387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0233001388
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Art collector, patron and enfant terrible, Peggy Guggenheim (1989 - 1979) was born Marguerite Guggenheim to a wealthy New York city family. She became one of the most prominent cultural movers and shakers of the 20th century.

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Customer Reviews

2.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as interesting ......... 22 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having been to the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice and hearing a potted history of her life, I was interested to know more about her. As is often the case with autobiographies when the author isn't a writer, it isn't very well written - "I did this, I went there, I met so and so" - there was no exposition of motivation for her passion for 20th century art for example. I think of this book as a fair introduction to PG's life - I now want to read a well-researched, literate biography.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Addiction indeed - and not only to Art! 9 Jan 2006
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
What a self-indulgent, rackety and restless life this woman has led, and she makes no bones about it! As a young woman she was part of a bohemian set in Paris, promiscuous, often drunk, dancing the night through, almost like a caricature of a flapper. She was quite neurotic, often had hysterical weeping fits, and her relationships were usually stormy and quarrelsome, punctuated by long sulks when she wouldn't speak to her husbands. The first of these, Laurence Vail, was as neurotic as she was and very violent, as often as not in public places. But she was obviously not easy to live with either, and tactful restraint in behaviour or utterance was never one of her qualities, even with men on whom she was dependent. (The book, too, is "frank" and completely lacking in reticence.)

Her immense wealth enabled her to travel constantly all across Europe (we always learn in which motor-car), and much of this book is an account of every journey she made. What she chooses to record seems quite undiscriminating, often jejune and sometimes positively verges on the Pooterish, not least because of its uninspired style.

She knew nothing about art or music until John Holms, her partner after her first divorce, began to teach her about it, and one always suspects that it was artists rather than art that really attracted her. She admits that even when in 1938 she decided to open an art gallery in London, at the time "I couldn't distinguish one thing in art from another" and acted on the advice of Marcel Duchamp who "taught me the difference between Abstract and Surrealist art"! (p.161). And "in spite of the fact that I was opening a modern art gallery in London, I much preferred old masters" (p.163). These of course were no longer sexually available, while living artists were.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Self indulgent and tedious 4 Jun 2011
Peggy Guggenheim had lots of money - LOTS - and fortunately she spent it on art and artists. This book (which I purchased at the Guggenheim Foundation in Venice) was a great mistake. It's a rambling, diary-like account of her life, full of unwanted detail and very little insight. She liked mixing with artists - difficult as they were (and are!) and I cannot but think that, apart from her largesse, they would have avoided her like the plague or regarded her with indifference.
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