A Biography of Peggy Guggenheim
By Anton Gill
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060956813, 528pp.)
Publication Date: May 2003
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Peggy Guggenheim -- millionairess, legendary lover, sadomasochist, appalling parent, selective miser -- was one of the greatest and most notorious art patrons of the twentieth century.
After her father, Benjamin Guggenheim, went down with the Titanic, the young heiress came into a small fortune and left for Europe. She married the writer Laurence Vail and joined the American expatriate bohemian set. Though her many lovers included such lions of art and literature as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst (whom she later married), Yves Tanguy, and Roland Penrose, real love always seemed to elude her.
In the late 1930s, Peggy set up one of the first galleries of modern art in London, quickly acquiring a magnificent selection of works, buying great numbers of paintings from artists fleeing to America after the Nazi invasion of France. Escaping from Vichy, she moved back to New York, where she was a vital part of the new American abstract expressionist movement.
Meticulously researched, filled with colorful incident, and boasting a distinguished cast, Anton Gill's biography reveals the inner drives of a remarkable woman and indefatigable patron of the arts.
Anton Gill worked for the English Stage Company, the Arts Council of Great Britain, and the BBC before becoming a full-time writer in 1984. He has written more than twenty books, mainly in the field of contemporary history, including The Journey Back from Hell: Conversations with Concentration Camp Survivors (winner of the H. H. Wingate Award), A Dance Between Flames: Berlin Between the Wars, and An Honourable Defeat: A History of the German Resistance to Hitler.