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Pieter van Huystee
Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict is a feature documentary about the life of art icon Peggy Guggenheim, based on her sole authorized biography. Peggy was an heiress to the Guggenheim family who would become a central figure in the modern art movement. As she moved through the cultural upheaval of the 20th century, she collected not only art, but artists. Her colorful personal history included trysts, affairs and marriages with such figures as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp as well as countless others. While fighting through personal tragedy, she maintained her vision to build one of the most important collections of modern art, which is today enshrined in her famous Venetian palazzo. The film is a compendium of the greatest 20th century art mixed with the wild and iconoclastic life of one of the most powerful women in the history of the art world.
Peggy Guggenheim accomplished two things noteworthy and lasting enough for books to be written and documentaries to be filmed about her, even to this day. She nurtured a set of talented young artists that turned out to be among the most influential of her century, and she put together one of the world's great collections of work by this same group of artists.
And there's more. She was quite a character. The guts that she showed in following her tastes in art also led her to affairs, brief and occasionally longer, with men, often young men, and especially artists she admired for more than their artistic talents. This led her to be widely gossiped about, not that this mattered enough to her to change her ways.
The film is sympathetic but not at all hagiographic. It's very well put together, framed around a candid oral interview with her late in life, and interspersed with comments from dozens of art world luminaries-- artists, dealers, critics--who knew her (sometimes in several senses of that term).
The film points out the duplicity of the culture that tolerates sexual promiscuity in males more than in females. Looking back on her life at the end of the film, Guggenheim comments on what made her happiest and on what she still desired most. Happily for the viewer, she speaks as honestly and as bluntly then as always.
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