Peggy Guggenheim must have had a good time in life; her story shows what a little money, a little intelligence, and a little get-up-and-go can accomplish when they're all vested in the same person. Born wealthy enough to do as she pleased, she came of age in the 1920s, riding the era's wave of feminism into a long career as a patron, enabler, and, apparently to some extent, sexual predator among the masters of modern art. If she became something of a noted eccentric later in life, she nonetheless carried off her eccentricity with the high style more normally associated with British aristocrats than with second-generation Jewish Americans. Though never a creative force in herself, she collected art (and in bed collected artists) with a kind of broad-ranging selectivity that made her palazzo in Venice, where she settled after World War II, one of the major shrines of artistic pilgrimage for lovers of modernism, with Arps and Ernsts and Tanguys and Pollocks scattered in every direction. While the Nazis were tromping across France, Peggy was in the Unoccupied Zone, shipping a trove of contemporary works to New York, safely out of reach of Goebbels's looters, and pulling strings to get visas for the artists themselves, suspect to the gestapo as Jews, leftists, stateless persons, and practitioners of "degenerate art." When Max Ernst's visa was challenged, she married him so that he could stay in the U.S. as a spouse... More >>>