Peggy Guggenheim Venice

21 Aug 2015

Did you know..?

…there is a Guggenheim museum in Venice?

Peggy Guggenheim, born in New York, is known for her art collection. Born in a wealthy family, she received an inheritance at the age of 21, when her father died in the disaster of the Titanic in 1912. Her uncle was Solomon Guggenheim, founder of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Photo: Paggy Guggenheim, by David Seymour, 1950

The white “Palazzo Venier dei Leoni” in Venice houses her modern art collection. An artwork of Marino Marini directly confronts travellers on the canal: a bronze figure on a horseback, Angel of the Citadel, with his arms stretched out and his phallus remarkably erect.

In Confessions of an Art (1960) Peggy Guggenheim describes how the artist Marini originally added a detachable limb to the image, so it could be put in a drawer when nuns came by on their way to be blessed by the Patriarch. Sometimes she forgot to take away the limb and she, not so secretly, enjoyed the reactions to the sculpture. The first removable phallus was stolen and after that a permanent limb was soldered on to the image: there was no escape for the (slight conservative) people embarrassed by it.

At the time of the placement of the Angel of the Citadel the palace was Guggenheim’s private home. She searched for a place for herself and her growing collection, and after being involved in various artistic projects in America and Britain, she settled in Venice after the Second World War.

In 1949 Peggy found the 'Venier dei Leoni', an incomplete palace of the patrician Venier family, also known as the Palazzo non compiuto, the 'unfinished palazzo'.

Photo: Peggy Guggenheim Museum

The Venier family allegedly kept lions in the garden, but the name ‘Leoni’ more likely derived from the eighteen lion’s heads on the front of the palace. In 1951 Guggenheim began to allow public into her house. When her collection of paintings and sculptures began to increase, more livings quarters were arranged as exhibition spaces. After Guggenheim’s death the palace became an art gallery as a whole, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation has administered the museum. Now it is one of the four Guggenheim museums in the world.

Photo: Peggy Guggenheim Museum


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