On Peggy Guggenheim and a planned pilgrimage to Italy

Thursday 15th September, 2016

I watched a documentary about Peggy Guggenheim, celebrated art patron last night. She was an interesting and trouble figure. I need to go to Venice and see the Guggenheim collection, which has been housed since 1951 in a single-story palazzo on the grand canal. It would be wonderful to see some Jackson Pollock’s, whom she considered to be her ‘most important discovery.’ Guggenheim wrote a memoir Out of this Century, which she apparently played with calling ‘Five Husbands and Some Other Men.’ She had a very challenging love life and a disturbing relationship with her daughter. There’s another book about Guggenheim alongside two other notoriously eccentric women, Marchesa Luisa Casati and Doris, or Lady Castlerosse, who all lived at different periods in this same Venetian mansion, The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice by Judith Mackrell, which I’d like to read. I was also reminded of the intellectual courtesan Veronica Franco, who lived in Venice during the Renaissance and survived the plague to set up a hospital. Of course, there was a film Dangerous Beauty made about Franco, based on the book The Honest Courtesan by Margaret F. Rosenthal. I will make a pilgrimage to Venice and perhaps write an ekphrastic poetry series – responding to artworks at the Guggenheim. It would also be interesting to visit the mansion of these three famous eccentric and pioneering women of Venice. I could make Venice my starting point, trek southward to the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Naples, then drive inland to Tuscany.