Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, film review: an unlikely sexual allure, an amateur collector and gallerist

A documentary that celebrates one of the most influential art collectors of the 20th century

Geoffrey Macnab
Thursday 10 December 2015 17:45 GMT
Lisa Immordino Vreeland celebrates an influential art-world outsider in ‘Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict’
Lisa Immordino Vreeland celebrates an influential art-world outsider in ‘Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict’

Peggy Guggenheim is now regarded as one of the most influential art collectors of the 20th century. She is celebrated for everything from bringing Modernism to the Venice Biennale to championing Jackson Pollock before almost anyone else. She is also almost as famous for her love life as for her activities in the art world. In a John and Yoko-like love-in, she once spent four days in bed with Samuel Beckett. (“I think I was a nymphomaniac,” she recalls in matter-of-fact fashion.) Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s breezy documentary about this modern-day Egeria of the art world combines expertly chosen archive footage with interviews. The talking heads include Picasso’s biographer and friend John Richardson, Robert De Niro (whose artist parents knew Peggy) and Marina Abramović, who makes an impassioned but not altogether convincing argument for Guggenheim as a feminist icon.

What is clear from the reminiscences is that Guggenheim was despised by many in the art world and exploited by many others. She was regarded as a dilettante by curators at the big European and US museums – and by some of her own relatives. A few of the artists she helped took extreme advantage of her generosity. They criticised her promiscuity and portrayed her an intellectual lightweight. She is remembered as a contradictory figure – a diffident woman with an unlikely sexual allure; an amateur collector and gallerist with limited means whose instincts trumped those of the professionals. Immordino Vreeland tells her story in a lively way, combining gossip, name-dropping and frothier elements with a serious appraisal of her contribution to art history.

​Lisa Immordino Vreeland, 97 mins

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in