Category Archives: Art Collectors

Peggy Guggenheim: The Last Dogaressa

Tony Vaccaro Archives Peggy Guggenheim in her gondola, 1968 

The American art collector and socialite Peggy Guggenheim saw Venice for the first time in 1924. She had traveled there for her honeymoon with her first husband Laurence Veil, an American-French Dada sculptor and writer. At the time, Peggy was only twenty-six—she was born in 1898—and immediately fell in love with the floating city. “I have never been in a city that gave me the same sense of freedom as Venice,” Peggy wrote, “Venice is not only the city of freedom and fantasy but it is the city of pleasure and happiness.”

© Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Jackson Pollock, Circumcision, January 1946. Oil on canvas. Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venezia.

In 1947, Peggy visited again and one year later she was offered to exhibit her collection at the Greek pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The exhibition was her official introduction to the city as an experienced and visionary collector and the confirmation that she had found a home for herself and her art. Among the pieces presented at the Biennale, there was a painting by Jackson Pollock, a piece that signaled the artist’s debut on the European art scene. In 1949, Peggy bought Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, an unfinished building on the Grand Canal by architect Lorenzo Boschetti. The Palazzo became her home as well as the location of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. As one of the most visited attractions in the city, the Collection is a window into some of the best European and American art of the first half of the twentieth century.

© René Magritte, SIAE René Magritte, Empire of Light, 1953-54. Oil on canvas. Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venezia.

2019 marked the seventieth anniversary of the first exhibition held at Palazzo Venier dei Leoni and the fortieth anniversary of Peggy’s death. To celebrate these occurrences, the Collection organized the exhibition Peggy Guggenheim, The Last Dogaressa. Through more than sixty pieces—paintings, sculptures, and personal scrapbooks—that Peggy collected after 1948, visitors have the rare opportunity to see masterpieces such as L’Empire des Lumières by René Magritte, Study for Chimpanzee by Francis Bacon, and Boîte-en-Valise created in 1941 by Marcel Duchamp specifically for her.

© The Estate of Francis Bacon. All Rights Reserved, SIAE Francis Bacon, Study for Chimpanzee, March 1957. Oil and pastel on canvas. Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venezia.

The Last Dogaressa opened with the pieces presented at the Greek pavilion in 1948, a clear celebration of Peggy’s first Venetian appearance. This exhibition also focused on Peggy’s extraordinary ability to recognize the talents of artists like Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Robert Motherwell. Among the artists of the abstract expressionist period, we also find Grace Hartigan and Irene Rice Pereira, a sign that Peggy strongly believed in the promotion and recognition of women artists.

© Grace Hartigan Estate Grace Hartigan, Ireland, 1958. Oil on canvas. Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venezia.

Yet Peggy did not only promote international artists, she was also interested in meeting local ones. One day at a restaurant in San Marco Square, she befriended Emilio Vedova and Giuseppe Santomaso, two of the most important modern Italian painters. Although she could speak Italian, Peggy found it initially hard to communicate with the two artists in Venetian, the local dialect that she eventually mastered. “The attention she gave the local talent was key,” says Gražina Subelytė, one of the curators at the Collection, “she was one of these artists’ earliest supporters.”

© Fondazione Emilio E Annabianca Vedova Emilio Vedova, Image of Time (Barrier), 1951. Egg tempera on canvas. Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venezia.

From her writings, it is evident that Peggy loved Venice. “If anything can rival Venice in its beauty, it must be its reflection at sunset in the Grand Canal” she noted. To this day, Venice reciprocates her love. It is still common to hear Venetians and students say “Let’s go to Peggy’s” as if they were planning a visit to an old friend who lives just across the bridge, that American lady with fascinating stories and a house full of art on the Grand Canal.

Ray Wilson Peggy Guggenheim in the garden of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Venice, 1970s. Next to her, Germaine Richier’s Tauromachy, 1953.

By Caterina Bellinetti for Art & Object.

Shchukin Art Collection On Display — Finally — decades after Stalin’s “too decadent” decree

Portrait of Dr. Félix Rey, by Vincent van Gogh, 1889.
Photo: From The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

“Decades After Being Hidden by Stalin, the Shchukin Art Collection Is Finally On Display”

‘The art collection of a Moscow textile magnate, which includes Cezannes, Monets, Matisses, and Picassos, was once decreed “too decadent” by the dictator. Now, for the first time ever, it will be shown in its entirety at the Fondation Louis Vuitton.’


“The collection is one of the most beautiful that has ever been put together. It is a complete vision of the beginning of contemporary art.” (Bernard Arnault)

Arnault opened Fondation Louis Vuitton, host of landmark exhibition, “Icons of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection,” in Paris two years ago.

When Russian and French representatives attended the United Nations General Assembly in September 2014, they had plenty of urgent topics on their agenda. Among them was the fate of one of the world’s most important, but relatively unknown, collections of modern art. Between 1897 and 1914, Moscow textile magnate Sergei Shchukin amassed 275 masterpieces, including 8 Cézannes, 13 Monets, 16 Gauguins, 41 Matisses, and 50 Picassos, which he displayed at his home, the Trubetskoy Palace.

Woman with a Fan, by Pablo Picasso, 1908. From The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg/© Succession Picasso.

Woman with a Fan, by Pablo Picasso, 1908.
From The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg/© Succession Picasso.

Nationalized in 1918 after the Bolshevik Revolution, the collection was eventually dispersed between the Pushkin Museum, in Moscow, and the Hermitage, in St. Petersburg. In 1948, Stalin decreed that the pictures were decadent, and they were hidden until his death (1953), when some of them began popping up on the walls of the two museums. Only then did the importance of the collection come to light. In recent years, Shchukin’s 74-year-old grandson, André-Marc Delocque-Fourcaud, a French citizen, has been lobbying to re-unite the collection in a major exhibition that would finally establish its eminence. No museum in Russia or France, however, had the hefty funds or the political clout to make it happen.

But one modern Medici did. Bernard Arnault, the chairman and C.E.O. of LVMH, an empire of 70 luxury brands, from Christian Dior to Dom Pérignon, “jumped,” according to one of his advisers, when he learned about the collection. From October 22 of this year through February 20, 2017, the Fondation Louis Vuitton—a spectacular Frank Gehry-designed center that Arnault opened in Paris two years ago—will host a landmark exhibition, “Icons of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection.”

Woman with Rake, by Kazimir Malevich, circa 1932. From The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Woman with Rake, by Kazimir Malevich, circa 1932.
From The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

“For me, it’s a big event,” Arnault said recently, during a rare interview in his sleek office suite at LVMH headquarters, on the Avenue Montaigne, in Paris. “The collection is one of the most beautiful that has ever been put together. It is a complete vision of the beginning of contemporary art.”

Nude, Black and Gold, by Henri Matisse, 1908. From The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg/© Succession H. Matisse.

Nude, Black and Gold, by Henri Matisse, 1908.
From The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg/© Succession H. Matisse.

And, he continues, “we got the approval of both governments, which, at the present time, is . . . something.” The show is not only the epitome of globalization—“a Russian national treasure, which is primarily French art, installed in a building designed by a U.S. architect”—but also a testament to the power of brands, and art, to transcend politics. “In a way, my group and myself are ambassadors around the world,” says Arnault. “The average Chinese person, for example, knows the name of Christian Dior or Louis Vuitton more than he knows the name of any French head of state—maybe with the exception of Napoleon.”


“Icons of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection”
Through March 5, 2017 (Extended)
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris

By James Reginato, Reprint from, from the magazine Vanity Fair, 29 September 2016, © Condé Nast.

The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at SFMOMA — approaching 260 works!

Chuck Close: Agnes, 1998. Oil on canvas, 102-1/8 x 84 inches (259.4 cm x 213.36 cm). The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. © Chuck Close; photo: Ellen Page Wilson. © This artwork or photo may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

What an extraordinary collection. Decades in the making, Doris and Donald Fisher put this together guided strictly by their taste and an agreement that they each liked every addition to the collection. Nearly 260 works are on view from May 14, 2016 – May 14, 2020 at the newly reopened San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in multiple ongoing exhibitions including: “Approaching American Abstraction,” “Pop, Minimal, and Figurative Art,” “German Art after 1960,” “Alexander Calder: Motion Lab,” and “British Sculptors.” This event, these fabulous works — a  must see!

—Jules Cavanaugh

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