CELEBRATES PEGGY GUGGENHEIM CENTENNIAL WITH
Press Preview: Thursday, June 11, 1998, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York City
Remarks will begin at 11:30 a.m.
In commemoration of the one-hundredth anniversary of Peggy Guggenheim's birth, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present Peggy Guggenheim: A Centennial Celebration. The exhibition, on view from June 12 through September 2, 1998, traces the story of the art patron's extraordinary life, from her childhood in her native New York to her artistic activities in Europe and the United States and finally to her later years in Venice, where she created a museum-home in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni for her outstanding collection of Modern art.
HUGO BOSS is the sponsor of this exhibition as part of its ongoing support of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
“Just as Peggy Guggenheim championed contemporary art, we at Hugo Boss have made it our goal to recognize and promote innovation in the arts,” said Joachim Vogt, Chairman and CEO of Hugo Boss. “In this way, we feel connected to her spirit. Peggy’s uncompromising passion laid a cornerstone for the Guggenheim Museum's international program. As such, Hugo Boss is proud to be associated with this unique and inspiring exhibition.”
This exhibition is organized by Karole P.B. Vail, Project Curatorial Assistant at the Guggenheim Museum.
A highlight of the exhibition is a collection of Peggy Guggenheim's guest books, on view here for the first time. Peggy encouraged guests to her Venice home to sign the books in whatever manner they chose. As a result, the books contain an extraordinary collection of signatures, sketches, drawings, musical notations, poems, and comments by some of the most important cultural figures of the twentieth century. The list includes Jean Arp, Cecil Beaton, Truman Capote, Jean Cocteau, Helen Frankenthaler, and Robert Motherwell, among others. Several pages from these books will be on view in the exhibition.
Peggy Guggenheim: A Centennial Celebration comprises paintings and sculptures from Peggy Guggenheim's collection; portraits and photographs of the art patron and her friends; guest book pages; and documentation and personal memorabilia, including clothing, exotic earrings, sunglasses, and other accessories.
A large section of the exhibition will be dedicated to Peggy Guggenheim's gallery ventures in London and New York. In the years 1938 to 1947, Peggy was active in Europe and the United States as a gallery owner. It was during these years that she began to amass the superb collection of twentieth-century art that forms the core of the holdings of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice.
Peggy’s first gallery, Guggenheim Jeune, opened in London in January 1938 with an exhibition of works by Cocteau. Other shows there included “Exhibition of Contemporary Sculpture,” which featured works by Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, and Antoine Pevsner, among others; and the first solo exhibition in London by Vasily Kandinsky. Several works from the sculpture exhibition, as well as Kandinsky’s painting Dominant Curve (1936) (now in the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), will represent this enterprise, which was active in London until June 1939 and served as a catalyst for the growing appreciation of Modern art in England.
Works of art by Jean Hélion, Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock, to whom Peggy gave his first one-person exhibition, will be among those representing the Art of this Century gallery, which was active in New York from 1942 to 1947. Several pieces of furniture by Frederick Kiesler designed specifically for that space will also be on view, helping to evoke the atmosphere of the legendary New York gallery.
In the summer of 1948, Peggy’s collection was exhibited for the first time in Europe at the Venice Biennale. That winter, Peggy bought Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, an unfinished eighteenth-century Venetian palace on the Grand Canal, and installed her collection there. She lived in the palazzo for thirty years. In 1976, three years before her death, Peggy formally donated her palazzo and art collection to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation of New York and her home was opened to the public as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Works on view from Peggy’s collection will include Arp’s sculpture Head and Shell (1933), the first piece of art she acquired; Francis Bacon’s Study for a Chimpanzee (1957); Joseph Cornell’s box Untitled (Pharmacy) (ca. 1942); Jean Dubuffet’s Fleshy Face with Chestnut Hair (1951); Giuseppe Santomaso’s Secret Life (1958); Laurence Vail’s Collage Screen (1940); and Emilio Vedova’s Hostage City (1945), among others.
Images of Peggy Guggenheim on view include childhood portraits by Franz von Lenbach and a striking canvas painted by the French artist Alfred Courmes in 1926. Noted photographs of Peggy will also be exhibited, including works by Berenice Abbott and Man Ray, the latter featuring an elegant Peggy wearing a Paul Poiret dress.
A selection of pages from Peggy Guggenheim's guest books from the Venice years will be on view. They include Clement Greenberg’s sketch of a gondola on the Grand Canal; Saul Steinberg’s whimsical drawings of Peggy and her dogs; Cocteau’s striking sketch of a head; Marino Marini’s drawings of horses; Man Ray’s irreverent female figure; and musical bars from such composers as Ned Rorem and John Cage.
Among the personal objects on view will be a silver bed-head (1945-46) created by Calder; several pairs of earrings, including a pair with miniature Calder mobiles and another with tiny Yves Tanguy paintings; surrealistic sunglasses by Edward Melcarth; and an evening gown designed by Ken Scott.
In conjunction with Peggy Guggenheim: A Centennial Celebration, the Museum will present a full series of public programs. All of the following programs are held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum under the auspices of The Sackler Center for Arts Education, a major facility for the museum's educational initiatives. For more information on any of the following programs, please call the Museum Box Office at 212/423-3587.
On Tuesdays, June 30 and July 21, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the museum will present a screening of “Peggy Guggenheim: The Last Dogaressa” (1977), produced by Nicolas Hélion and Olivier Lorquin. The film includes interviews in Venice with Peggy Guggenheim and also with artists Jean Hélion, Marino Marini, and Henry Moore.
On Tuesday, July 28, at 7 p.m., the museum will present a screening of “Dreams that Money Can Buy” (1947), produced by Hans Richter. The evening will be introduced by Karole P.B. Vail, curator of the exhibition. The film, which Peggy Guggenheim helped to finance, is considered to be the first feature-length avant-garde film produced in the United States. It includes contributions from Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Duchamp, Calder, and Richter himself.
The screenings will take place in The Peter B. Lewis Theater in The Sackler Center for Arts Education, located at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Tickets are free with museum admission, and are available the day of the program, during regular museum hours, on a first-come, first-served basis.
On Friday, July 31, at 1 p.m., Vail will lead a tour of the exhibition as part of the continuing series “A Curatorial Eye.” This program is limited to 30 people; reservations will be taken at the museum's admissions desk on the morning of the program only.
Peggy Guggenheim: A Celebration, a 152-page fully illustrated publication, will accompany the exhibition. It contains essays by Karole P.B. Vail, and also by Thomas M. Messer, former director of the Guggenheim Museum. It is published by the Guggenheim Museum, and distributed by Harry N. Abrams Inc.
The exhibition will travel to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection from September 29, 1998, through January 12, 1999.
Support of this exhibition is one component of a long-term collaborative program between the Guggenheim Museum and Hugo Boss. Since its inception, Hugo Boss has sponsored a wide range of activities at the museum, including retrospectives of the work of Georg Baselitz, Ross Bleckner, Ellsworth Kelly, and Robert Rauschenberg, and has collaborated on special projects with Laurie Anderson, Jeff Koons, and James Rosenquist.