Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict
I say this every time an art documentary comes out, but if they’re going to keep making them, I’ll just have to repeat myself: you can’t go wrong with a biopic about a fashionista or an exposé about the life of someone in the arts, and since the 20th Century was peopled by so many fascinating characters, it looks like this stream will never dry up.
Peggy Guggenheim, a surname synonymous with the world’s great artists and financiers, is one such formidable subject. The gutsy Jewish heiress born on the cusp of last century grew up in New York and then Europe, inveigling her way into the lives and careers of budding artists such as Pollock, Duchamp and Ernst. Frequently falling painfully in love, Guggenheim used her compelling personality and considerable resources to launch their talents into international art history.
Notoriously blessed with nous rather than beauty, she’s an icon to whom the world owes a huge debt – would we have heard of Kandinsky had she not taken a punt in her small London gallery in 1938? – but, as ever, it’s the story of the personality behind the famous artists which makes this an enthralling watch.
With a life so tragic you couldn’t make it up, Guggenheim’s tale is told largely in voiceover recordings (sometimes a little hard to hear) as her biographer du jour asks the probing questions and the iconoclast happily opens up. Replete with archive materials of her exploits and interesting insights delivered by contemporary acquaintances in the art world, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict satiates the cultured viewer’s thirst for backstory and context.