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In “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict”, award-winning French director Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s paints an intimate portrait of one of modern art’s most influential patrons. The film documents the life of Peggy Guggenheim, a woman who used her inherited fortune to create one of the greatest collections of twentieth-century art.
The film shows how Guggenheim’s keen eye for talent saw her carve out a life for herself as a collector, but a type of collector that had never existed before. A colourful personality, she collected artists as much as she did art. And through her impeccable taste and eye for talent, she became the champion of artists that would later come to define this moment in art history: Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, Wassily Kandinsky, Mark Rothko, Piet Mondrian, and many more.
While Guggenheim’s eccentric personality and eventful life has been the subject of several biographies, Vreeland is the first to document the art collector’s life in film. Vreeland synthesises archival materials, the 1978 and ’79 recordings of Guggenheim’s interview with biographer Jacqueline Bograd Weld which have long been believed to be lost, as well as commentary from art historians, to elucidate on the personality, drives and complexes of Guggenheim’s addiction to art. The use of these primary and secondary materials allows us to delve beneath the sensational recounts of her life and bring to the surface an insightful, sensitive temperament, and the passionate side of a woman that has not yet received sufficient attention.
As a woman ahead of her time, the film sheds light on how her love of art of the avant-garde ran parallel to her own eccentric personality. It documents how the life of one woman shaped the canon of modern art, celebrating her acquisition, curatorial, and even sexual triumphs, but it also celebrates the way in which Guggenheim saw unique art as a mirror of her unique self.