Director of the major fashion blockbuster, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, Lisa Immordino Vreeland chose another powerful woman in the world of arts and culture for her latest film’s subject: Peggy Guggenheim. Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict was released in the US in November and will be released at select locations in the UK on 11 December. To learn more about the documentary and understand just how influential Guggenheim was on art and collecting, Sotheby’s spoke to the film’s director.


COURTESY OF THE PEGGY GUGGGENHEIM COLLECTION ARCHIVES, VENICE.

What prompted you to make this film?
Peggy Guggenheim’s story was an important story to tell because of her impact in the world of art. Her personal story has often foreshadowed her great accomplishments. She had the vision of wanting to build a collection and share it with the world at a time when patronage was not as conventional as it is today. She did this on her own terms and believed in a group of unknown artists who have become some of the greatest masters of the 20th century.

What discoveries did you make about Peggy Guggenheim during making the film?
Peggy Guggenheim’s influence was much broader than I realised when I first started to make the film. I discovered that she had a great influence in the development of modern art in England, France, the United States and Italy. There are not any other historical figures whom I know of who have played such a pivotal role like this in the landscape of the art world. 


COURTESY OF THE PEGGY GUGGGENHEIM COLLECTION ARCHIVES, VENICE.

What particular aspect of Peggy Guggenheim do you most admire?
Her unfailing courage to persevere, to surpass her personal problems and believe in her dream to build a collection that she wanted to share with the world.

What characterises her vision as a collector?
She was unique in her vision because she believed in the artists when they were unknown. The art landscape was completely different when she did it, and these artists needed her support. She understood that they needed this even before they were aware they did. John Richardson called her a “pollinator,” and he was absolutely correct.

Who did you interview for the film, and what prompted these choices?
It is a true testament to Peggy of the curators, museum directors, friends and gallery owners who agreed to be part of the film. Our biggest surprise was when we discovered that the actor Robert De Niro was more connected to Peggy’s New York gallery, Art of This Century, than anyone else. His mother and father, Virginia Admiral and Robert De Niro Sr. both had their first shows with her, and Hans Hoffman was De Niro’s godfather.


ROLOFF BENY / COURTESY OF NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA (ROLOFF BENY COLLECTION,
ACCESSION NO. 1986-009, DOCUMENTARY ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY DIVISION, NATIONAL ARCHIVES
OF CANADA, 395 WELLINGTON STREET, OTTAWA, ONTARIO K1A 0N3).

How has the film been received? What events are being organised for the release of the film in the UK?
The film has been receiving such support from everyone. It has been playing for a month in the United States, and audiences are intrigued by Peggy’s personal story and her accomplishments in the art world. We are especially happy to see that the audience is not exclusively an older customer, many college-aged students are coming to discover more about Peggy. The film in England will have a broad release on Friday, December 11th.

Do you have a particular favourite anecdote about Peggy Guggenheim?
I have so many about Peggy, but I think that when Larry Gagosian, who stars in the film, says that “great art is eternal,” he captures the essence of who Peggy is. She understood this and ultimately created the collection for the love of the art.