Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Golden Handcuffs

Lately I’ve been getting the Guggenheims and the Gettys mixed up. The whole time I was watching an interview with the director of The Met talk about the change in vetting procedure for the acquisition of antiquities I had the image in my head of Peggy Guggenheim living out her later years alone in Venice with her dogs.

(The same couple that "cared" for her at the end of her life also "cared" for Olga Rudge, Pound's long term mistress at the end of hers, important assets were "sold" at bargain prices in both cases.)

I read about that in The City of Falling Angels and was surprised when I found out it was The Getty that was in hot water about stolen Italian art.

It was in the movie Pollock, of course, when this recent round of thinking in particular about Peggy Guggenheim cropped up. I was absolutely fascinated by Jackson Pollack when I was eleven. My parents used to take us out to the LA Museum of Modern Art (long before the Contemprary was built) by the tar pits and leave my brother and I there for hours.

I started painting “Pollocks” straight away.

Anyway, I was reading in the Lee Miller biography last night about her reunion with the lover that preoccupied her imagination just before the war in 1939, Roland Penrose. He was a wealthy English artist and art collector.

He had been able to meet with her briefly months before in Assyut (She was living in Cairo with her husband) and he had brought her as gifts the first edition of his book The Road is Wider Than Long and a pair of handcuffs made of gold from Cartier’s.

Who was it that said, “The rich are not like us, they have more money?”

This all comes back to Peggy Guggenheim who had a “rather indifferent (his term) affair with him in the interim.

“Roland made up for his lack of passion with charm.., When he slept with women he tied up their wrists with anything that was handy…It was extremely uncomfortable to spend the night this way, but if you spent it with Penrose it was the only way.”

Now I wouldn’t have read that in a biography when I was eleven.


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