Guggenheim in Venice

06 Mar






I’ve been there a couple of times already, so last time we were in Venice we skipped this, also because of lack of time. But it’s really worth a trip to Venice in itself…..I searched through my old photos and here it is, one of Venice most visited attractions…..

 (Claire Falkenstein gate)

The museum was originally the home of the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim, who began displaying her private collection of artworks to the public seasonally in 1951. After her death in 1979, it passed to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which eventually opened the collection year-round.

Main entrance on the courtyard and the ticket office…..

The museum has access also by boats from the Canal Grande, but only on few Gala occasions…..


The collection is principally based on the personal art collection of Peggy Guggenheim, a former wife of artist Max Ernst and a niece of the mining magnate, Solomon R. Guggenheim. She collected the artworks mostly between 1938 and 1946, buying works in Europe “in dizzying succession” as World War II began, and later in America, where she discovered the talent of Jackson Pollock, among others. The museum “houses an impressive selection of modern art. Its picturesque setting and well-respected collection attract some 400,000 visitors per year”making it “the most-visited site in Venice after the Doge’s Palace”.Works on display include those of prominent Italian futurists and American modernists. Pieces in the collection embrace Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract expressionism.During Peggy Guggenheim’s 30-year residence in Venice, her collection was seen at her home in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni and at special exhibitions in Amsterdam (1950), Zurich (1951), London (1964), Stockholm (1966), Copenhagen (1966), New York (1969) and Paris (1974).


 ( Giacometti)


Among the artists represented in the collection are, from Italy, De Chirico (The Red Tower, The Nostalgia of the Poet) and Severini (Sea Dancer); from France, Braque (The Clarinet), Metzinger (Au Vélodrome), Gleizes (Woman with animals), Duchamp (Sad Young Man on a Train), Léger (Study of a Nude and Men in the City) Picabia (Very Rare Picture on Earth); from Spain, Dalí (Birth of Liquid Desires), Miró (Seated Woman II) and Picasso (The Poet, On the Beach); from other European countries, Brâncuși (including a sculpture from the Bird in Space series), Max Ernst (The Kiss, Attirement of the Bride), Giacometti (Woman with Her Throat Cut, Woman Walking), Gorky (Untitled), Kandinsky (Landscape with Red Spots, No. 2, White Cross), Klee (Magic Garden), Magritte (Empire of Light) and Mondrian (Composition No. 1 with Grey and Red 1938, Composition with Red 1939); and from the US, Calder (Arc of Petals) and Pollock (The Moon Woman, Alchemy). In one room, the museum also exhibits a few paintings by Peggy’s daughter Pegeen Vail Guggenheim.


  (Calder and Picasso)

In addition to the permanent collection, the museum houses 26 works on long-term loan from the Gianni Mattioli Collection, including images of Italian futurism by artists including Boccioni (Materia, Dynamism of a Cyclist), Carrà (Interventionist Demonstration), Russolo (The Solidity of Fog) and Severini (Blue Dancer), as well as works by Balla, Depero, Rosai, Sironi and Soffici. In 2012, the museum received 83 works from the Rudolph and Hannelore Schulhof Collection, which will have its own gallery within in the building.

 (Gleizes and Metzinger)





The collection is housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which Peggy Guggenheim purchased in 1949. Although sometimes mistaken for a modern building, it is an 18th-century palace designed by the Venetian architect Lorenzo Boschetti. The building was unfinished, and has an unusually low elevation on the Grand Canal. The museum’s website describes it thus:

Palazzo Venier dei Leoni’s long low façade, made of Istrian stone and set off against the trees in the garden behind that soften its lines, forms a welcome “caesura” in the stately march of Grand Canal palaces from the Accademia to the Salute.

There are different theories that try to explain why the building was never finished; some say it was for lack of funds, others for a feud among powerful Venetian families. The fact is that Palazzo Venier, with its unique shape and for the view on the Grand Canal, makes it the perfect home for the unique and original artwork held in the Guggenheim collection.

The palazzo was Peggy Guggenheim’s home for thirty years. In 1951, the palazzo, its garden, now called the Nasher Sculpture Garden, and her art collection were opened to the public from April to October for viewing. Her collection at the palazzo remained open during the summers until her death in Camposampiero, northern Italy, in 1979; she had donated the palazzo and the 300-piece collection to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1976. The foundation, then under the direction of Peter Lawson-Johnston, took control of the palazzo and the collection in 1979 and re-opened the collection there in April 1980 as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

 (the former dining room with works of Boccioni, Brancusi and Mondrian and on the hall, Kandinsky)

 (the former library with works by De Chirico, Mondrian and Brancusi)

 ( Glass sculptures after Picasso’s sketches by Costantini)

After the Foundation took control of the building in 1979, it took steps to expand gallery space; by 1985, all of the rooms on the main floor had been converted into galleries. The white Istrian stone facade and the unique canal terrace had been restored” and a protruding arcade wing, called the barchessa, had been rebuilt by architect Giorgio Bellavitis. Since 1985, the museum has been open year-round. In 1993, apartments adjacent to the museum were converted to a garden annex, a shop and more galleries. In 1995, the Nasher Sculpture Garden was completed, additional exhibition rooms were added, and a café was opened. A few years later, in 1999 and in 2000, the two neighboring properties were acquired. In 2003, a new entrance and booking office opened to cope with the increasing number of visitors, which reached 350,000 in 2007. Since 1993, the museum has doubled in size, from 2,000 to 4,000 square meters.

 ( Nannucci)



In the little courtyard between the entrance and the house itself, lots of sculptures and art installations.

But among those there’s a little cozy corner…..where lie all Peggy’s beloved dogs……….and beside them, the home of Peggy’s ashes….

It’s really a very interesting place to visit, highly recommended….

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: