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Out of This Century: The Autobiography of Peggy Guggenheim Paperback – 1 Jul 2005

3.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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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 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thoroughly enjoyed this read which gave fantastic insight into her life and personality. Other comments about the book not being well-written were unfounded - her clipped and matter of fact style seemed to match her actual speech, as I have heard it in documentaries, and I found it amusing. There is less on the art than there is on the artists themselves but if you are fascinated by this period it is a real treat finding out a bit of what went on behind the painting. I read this after having visited her collection in Venice and it was a brilliant adjunct to that.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Peggy Guggenheim comes across as an extremely generous character, handing out houses left right and centre to her friends. She does not dwell too long on her unhappy and stifling childhood, which she describes as a long agony - as soon as she was able she moved to Paris, mingled with the art world where, with all her money, she was welcomed with open arms and ready beds. Yet she was never happier than when wandering alone through the streets of Venice. Interesting, often funny, and well-written.
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Format: Paperback
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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