Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979) was one of twentieth-century America’s most influential patrons of the arts. The infamous, counter-culture icon brought to wide public attention the work of modern masters Jackson Pollock and Man Ray. In her time, there was no stronger advocate for the groundbreaking and the avant-garde. Her midtown gallery was the acknowledged center of the postwar New York art scene, and her museum on the Grand Canal in Venice remains one of the world’s great collections of modern art. Yet as renowned as she was for the art and artists she so tirelessly championed, Guggenheim was equally famous for her unconventional personal life and flamboyant style, and for her ironic, playful desire to shock.
Acclaimed best-selling author Francine Prose’s book Peggy Guggenheim: The Shock of the Modern is a lively and insightful tell-all that attempts to capture Guggenheim’s extraordinary life, her boldness, her unique collecting habits and paradigm-changing discoveries. The playful narrative gives insight into her celebrity friendships, failed marriages, her delicious affairs, and delivers a colorful portrait of a defiantly uncompromising woman who maintained a powerful upper hand in a male-dominated world. Prose also explores the ways in which Guggenheim’s image was filtered through the lens of insidious antisemitism.