Tuesday, October 19, 2010

exclusive : The Guggenheim Aussie Connection !

Peggy in Venice

Currently on show at the Art Gallery of Western Australia is A Collection In Venice-the fantastic art collection of famed US art patron Peggy Guggenheim. It's been ignored by most media except for an ABC TV story this week.

Amongst the extraordinary works that were owned by Peggy Guggenheim are pieces by Mondrian, Rothko, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollack and Marcel Duchamp.

Max Ernst
 Guggenheim inherited around $US2.5M from her grandfather Benjamin Guggenheim who died in the Titanic disaster in 1912.
After working for a time in a New York book store she moved to Paris and immersed herself in the Bohemian world of art, having numerous affairs with now famous names of the art world.

She married Max Ernst in 1941 and became pals and the patron of artists like Duchamp and Man Ray. With her wealth she promoted artists who today are legendary.

 Older Shuttler's may remember the controversial 1973 purchase of Jackson Pollack's Blue Poles . Pollack owed his reputation in the USA to Guggenheim's relentless promotion.

The newly elected Labour government of Gough Whitlam  paid $1.3M for the painting-the then highest ever price for a modern work of art. Scathing criticism lasted for years although the work, now at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra is estimated at being worth $180M .

Peggy Guggenheim eventually settled in Venice on the Grand Canal at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in 1949 after divorcing Ernst where she continued her love of art collecting and along the way, indulging in love affairs with artists.

But there is one love affair that has never been written about before.

Kit Lambert with Pete Townshend from The Who
In the 1970's,  rock band manager Kit Lambert who  discovered the legendary The Who arrived in Venice to purchase his dream home. Lambert had always believed he had been conceived in Venice during a  night of passion between his mother and famous father, the English classical composer Constant Lambert.

He found his villa, ironically named Villa Lamberti next door to Guggenheim's Palazzo Venier dei Leoni . Within a year the two had become close friends and were having a torrid love affair. It lasted on  and off for over 3 years.

However Lambert  was addicted to heroin and had a fierce cocaine habit which Peggy, despite her bohemian aspirations, abhorred. Lambert was also having financial problems due to his drug intake. Peggy ended the affair one morning when she visited Lambert in his villa for breakfast.

As Lambert would later re-call, Guggenheim's parting words to Kit were-"Quite frankly, Kit, I simply cannot afford you !".

Christopher 'Kit' Lambert  who died in 1983 after a mysterious fall down a flight of stairs was the grandson of one of Australia's first and most famous artists-George Washington Lambert.

Along side Blue Poles in Canberra can be found several G.W.Lambert works and beside the driveway to Mrs Macquarie's Chair in Sydney there is a statue dedicated to him.

Peggy Guggenheim ; A Collection In Venice is at the Art Gallery of Western Australia from the 9th October 2010 to 31st January 2011

## Coming soon-the woman who turned down Andy Warhol's offer of marriage !

Uber fashion designers and the darlings of the pop set Dolce and Gabana have been accused of a massive tax evasion scam in Italy.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, along with five other people, are accused of channeling profits through Luxembourg, paying just three per cent tax on sales royalties instead of much higher Italian taxes. As a result, the Italian treasury has allegedly been defrauded of an estimated €420m.
Read more at The First Post.