The Guggenheim Museum in Venice

Why visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice?

What if your trip to Venice was an opportunity to discover one of the most beautiful collections of modern art in Europe!
The Peggy Guggenheim Foundation is located in the sestiere of Dorsoduro, within the Palazzo Veniér dei Leoni and its garden, between the Accademia Bridge and the Dogana.

This collection is that of a rich American heiress, daughter of a banker who disappeared in the sinking of the Titanic, who rebuilt herself first through books, then through art and love without limits. In this “unfinished palace” (with only one floor out of the four originally planned in 1748 by the architect Lorenzo Boschetti), it houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary paintings and sculptures.

All the artistic currents of the 20th century are represented there with an over-representation of surrealist works, and great names like Picasso, Magritte, Mondrian, Polock (one of her lovers?), Mirὀ, Kandinski, Ernst (her second husband), Van Doesburg, Delaunay, Tanguy…

But also names probably less known but worth discovering like Laurence Vail, painter and especially sculptor, who was Peggy’s first husband and father of her 2 children, Egidio Costantini, great glass master of Murano, Alexander Calder who particularly excels on the creation of mobiles in metal wire…

And this list is far from being exhaustive! Peggy, the eccentric, with a life rich in love stories, muse of great artists and devoted an unconditional love for her dogs, lived in this palace from 1949 to, shortly before her death in 1979. She is buried here with 14 of her four-legged friends.

Tombe Peggy Guggenheim
Peggy Guggenheim

You will begin by exploring the garden and its sculptures and the terrace with Marino Marini’s famous and amusing sculpture “The Angel of the City” and its magnificent view of the Grand Canal, then continue inside the palace with the famous Peggy Guggenheim collection, before eventually ending your visit with a temporary collection.
There is also a store where you can buy a nice souvenir: a book on the collection, on the artists and on the artistic trends, as well as key rings or magnets…

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is open from 10 am to 6 pm except on Tuesdays and December 25.
Please note that at 5:30 pm it is no longer possible to enter the museum.
In addition to the permanent collection, temporary exhibitions are organized and included in the ticket.
tel 041.2405411
info@guggenheim-venice.it
Free entrance for children up to 10 years old
To get to the museum:
vaporetto line 2, direction Lido, stop Accademia
vaporetto line 1, direction Lido, Accademia or Salute stop
From St. Mark’s Square:
vaporetto line 2, direction P. Roma, Accademia stop
vaporetto line 1, direction P. Roma, Stop Salute or Accademia

Our advice for visiting the Peggy Guggenheim collection:

The museum attracts a lot of people, so there is a lot of waiting to buy tickets due to the crowds.

To avoid unnecessary waiting at the ticket booths, we recommend that you buy your ticket in advance:

Everyone lives art in their own way, on each painting you will find our two experiences of the artist's work - Oriane & Angel

Kandinsky

Weisses Kreuz (White Cross), 1922 Vasily Kandinsky

Vasily Kandinsky. White Cross ( Weisses Kreuz ) 1922 Guggenheim Venice Venezia
Vasily Kandinsky. White Cross ( Weisses Kreuz ) 1922 Guggenheim Venice Venezia

Oriane : During his “white period” in the early 1920s, Kandinsky increasingly uses geometric shapes that float in an irregular plane. The title isolates a white cross that disturbs a checkerboard on the right, hidden behind tangled colored shapes and signs. However, the eye is rather attracted by the orange and black lines perpendicular to each other that seem to rebalance the unstable whole.

Angel : Yes, yes, it speaks to my brain

Theo van Doesburg

Composition in Gray (Rag-time) Theo van Doesburg, 1919

Composition in Gray (Rag-time) Theo van Doesburg, 1919 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Composition in Gray (Rag-time) Theo van Doesburg, 1919

Angel : In 1917, Theo van Doesburg and several other artists, including Piet Mondrian, founded the De Stijl group to try to establish a new reductivist art.

Thus they reduced the elements of their paintings to colors and geometric shapes in opposition. Their goal is to express a changing reality as nature is.

Here the rectangles are not themselves geometric shapes, but the space in relief formed by the lines and the substance created by the shades of gray.

We find the cubist oval delimited in the corners by the lines formed by unfinished rectangles. This moves the attention from the center of the canvas to the periphery.

Oriane : All right… If I summarize, it is the expression of 50 nuances of Grey…

Counter-Composition XIII (Contre Composition XIII ), 1925

Counter-Composition XIII ( Contra-Compositie XIII ) 1925-1926 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Counter-Composition XIII ( Contra-Compositie XIII ) 1925-1926

Oriane : In 1924, Theo Van Doesburg became tired of the horizontal and vertical lines of the De Stijl group.

He broke it up by deciding to neutralize the monotony he called “Elementarism” by using diagonal lines.

This work pushes the eye to the periphery by inviting us to follow the lines of the isosceles triangles beyond the canvas to complete them.

Angel : Oh yes, and he created the youtube player in 1925!

Robert Delaunay

Windows Open Simultaneously, First Part, Third Motif, 1912

Robert Delaunay 1912 Windows Open Simultaneously Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Robert Delaunay 1912 Windows Open Simultaneously

Angel : Windows open simultaneously…

When I see that, I’m not surprised that Windows crashes often…

Oriane : Angel, you are beside… It is not pages of Windows but a picture of Paris !

Delaunay was inspired for many of his paintings by a postcard of Paris which shows the Eiffel tower above the roofs of the city…

Angel : Oh yes! Now that you say it : we see in the middle the shape of the Eiffel tower, and then at the bottom of the windows, maybe also vertical buildings on the left… Very figurative finally !

Oriane : It seems even that there are several Eiffel towers !

Angel : It is what I said he painted the map several times by superimposing them… As if he had opened several windows !

Max Ernst

Zoomorphic couple, 1933

Zoomorphic couple (couple zoomorphe), 1933 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Zoomorphic couple (couple zoomorphe), 1933

Angel : This painting is a good example of Max Ernst’s rubbing technique, which was born from the idea of reproducing by random staining effects forms that the imagination makes figurative.

Oriane : A little like when you find characters or animals in clouds ?

Angel :Yes, but he explains it by memories of childhood where he observed tasks produced accidentally in wood grooves.

He was also inspired by a treatise of painting of Léonard De Vinci who invites to look at spots on walls until forms appear

Oriane : And concretely he makes how ?

Angel : In fact at the beginning he put strings under his canvases and rubbed pigments of paint on it. That revealed then the random meanders of those which he manipulated then to make images of it. Then he evolved his technique. For this canvas, he put cords loaded with paint on the top and worked by pulverization.

Oriane : Anyway, when I see this painting, I understand where J.K. Rowling found his inspiration to describe the Death Eaters

Angel : Well for once, you may be right… In Harry Potter, the Death Eaters represent the evil… In Ernst’s work, these humanoid forms coupled with bird forms allude to the rise of Nazism in the 30’s… And it’s the Nazis themselves who saw it, since Hitler put it on a black list in 1933 !

Oriane : It is strong! He succeeds in expressing ideas in a concrete way by starting from random forms ! We see here clearly a human with the long and pointed nails which caress the head of an eagle! And next to it, a cobra standing up… Is he hypnotizing man, like National Socialism did?

Yves Tanguy

In an Indeterminate Place (En Lieu oblique), par Yves Tanguy, 1941

In an Indeterminate Place (En Lieu oblique), Mars 1941 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
In an Indeterminate Place (En Lieu oblique), Mars 1941

Oriane : The Madmax set in color

Angel : If you want ! In fact it is an oil on canvas which represents an indeterminate place…

Oriane : Ok, but nothing more to say about this magnificent canvas ?

Angel : Oh yes! Of course ! Yves Tanguy, born in Paris in 1900 travels from his 18 years in Africa, South America and England then after his military service, he makes a civic service in Tunisia. He began to paint at this time and found a place with, among others, Ernst, Masson, Miró and Picasso in 1927 in a surrealist exhibition in Paris. After 1930, his paintings include images of geological formations that he had observed during his travels in Africa. In 1939, he met the painter Kay Sage and left to travel and live in the United States with her.

Oriane : And ?

Angel : Well, on this canvas the undetermined place is a desert, or in any case, a flat and windy expanse… And the surrealist interpretation of the painter transforms the geological formations which litter it in more geometrical objects, maybe mechanical…

Oriane : Here is ! That confirms me… Pieces of wrecks of Mad Max !

Jackson Pollock

Circumcision (Circoncision), 1946

Jackson Pollock - Circumcision -1946 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Jackson Pollock - Circumcision -1946

Oriane : it’s nice but I don’t see at first sight any relation with the title Circumcision !

Angel : yes there is an owl on top but we remain circumcised !

Oriane : you want to say circumspect ?

Angel : yes, it is not the same, no ?

Oriane : A little bit serious… Well yes, there would be a report… It is Lee Krasner, his wife of Russian Jewish origin, who says it since it is her who suggested him the title…

Angel : In fact, Pollock did not know it himself?

Oriane : It is that… His technique of painting is guided by his instinct, tracing it seems with the chance of the lines and the forms.

Angel : However one sees figurative elements there in addition to the owl! Look well : there are arrows, eyes, tribal signs, human silhouettes, and even stitches !

Oriane : And it seems that all that turns around a confused zone which evokes a kind of violence…

Angel : In fact, Pollock, who paints with his unconsciousness translated here an ancestral rite of passage which can be quite other than a circumcision, but his wife, of Jewish origin, associated him with this religious custom !

The Moon Woman (La femme de la Lune), 1942

The Moon Woman - Jackson Pollock - Guggenheim Venice Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
The Moon Woman - Jackson Pollock - Guggenheim Venice

Angel : The Moon Woman? I see indeed a woman, with a head in the shape of a crescent Moon…

Oriane : Pollock is a surrealist painter clearly influenced by Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, and he adopted the concept of the unconscious as the source of art. The frontal and profile views of the face evoke the 2 aspects of the self: the conscious and the unconscious.

Angel : I want to, but why the Moon ?

Oriane :It is possible that as his friends William Baziotes and Robert Motherwell, the artist took his inspiration in the poem of Charles Beaudelaire ” The benefits of the Moon ” which evokes ” the sinister flowers which resemble the incense-burners of an unknown religion, the perfumes which disturb the will.

Angel : How?

Oriane : Don’t the flowers represented on the top right seem sinister to you? And doesn’t the expression of the woman’s profile show a troubled reflection?

Angel : … One could say, to follow… There I would say : to meditate !

Arshile Gorky

Sans titre, 1944

Arshile Gorky - Untitled Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Arshile Gorky - Untitled

Angel : Finally a limpid plan to cross Venice without getting lost !

Oriane : Doesn’t this painting remind you of anything else? Don’t forget that Arshile Gorky is a surrealist painter influenced in particular by Joan Miró : shapes of flames, dotted ovals, and suggestions of genitals floating on an indeterminate background.

But unlike Miró, Gorky links his forms together to create an overall structure. And then he only occasionally links the clouds of color to these forms…

Are you listening to me Angel? I can see you thinking about this painting!

Angel : I’m analyzing… I can’t figure out if they are male or female! It is not a map of Venice, it is not so clear, and I got lost! For once I had it all wrong!

Egidio Costantini

Egidio Costantini - Sculptures after sketches by Picasso 1964

Egidio Costantini - Sculptures after sketches by Picasso 1964 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Egidio Costantini - Sculptures after sketches by Picasso 1964

Angel : The only bowling in Venice !

Oriane : Oh no Angel ! You are hopeless… Fortunately these magnificent glass sculptures that the artist made from Pablo Picasso’s sketches are protected by grids!

This master glass artist created sublime works often in collaboration with the greatest painters of the 20th century.

He wanted to raise the art of glassblowing to the same level as sculpture or painting, which is why he collaborated with glassmakers, artists (Alexander Calder, Gino Severini, Pablo Picasso, Jean Arp, Max Ernst, and others) to create glass sculptures from their drawings.

Laurence Vail

Bottles, début des années 1940

Laurence Vail - Glass bottle and collage, 43 cm high Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Laurence Vail - Glass bottle and collage, 43 cm high

Angel : Laurence Vail was born in Paris in 1891. His father was a renowned painter who took him to Venice often during his childhood.

In 1922 he married Peggy Guggenheim with whom he had two children. He realized, besides his sculptures, many paintings and wrote a book telling his couple in a satirical way..

Oriane : This work has no title… It is just part of the collection of collage on bottles called Bottles

Angel : I found one : “A costumed man who stayed too long under the pigeons of the Saint Mark’s square !

Oriane : A little more respect please ! This man had the bottle!

Alexander Calder

Silver Bed Head (tête de lit en argent), hiver 1945-1946

Silver Bed Head par Alexander Calder -1946 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Silver Bed Head par Alexander Calder -1946

Angel : Alexander Calder, born in 1898 in a family of artists in the United States, is particularly known for his wire sculptures and the amazing circus he created in 1928 in New York, although he also made many drawings to illustrate books and magazines. Indeed, after having drawn circus images for the national police gazette and exhibited a few paintings, he began to create sculptures in wire and wood and then animated his sculptures of animals and caricatures in a show that he named the Calder circus.

He befriended Joan Miró, whose influence would be visible in many of his works. From 1931 onwards, he created sculptures in movement or “mobiles” as opposed to fixed constructions, the “stabiles”, then in the 1950s sound mobiles, the “gongs” and wall mobiles, the “towers”, before evolving towards the end of the 1960s on “totems” and “animobiles” which are variations of standing mobiles.

Oriane : Oh, look ! A silver headboard! Airy, light, and although immobile it seems in perpetual movement… Plants, insects, fishes… The whole seems animated by a light movement, like the one of water which would be pushed by a light breeze on the surface…

What to enter in the sleep gently, by taking peaceful and fresh images for our dreams!

Angel : You look really inspired ! This is certainly the effect the artist was looking for when he made this commission from Peggy Guggenheim!

Cy Twombly

Sans titre, 1961

Cy Twombly, untitled Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Cy Twombly, untitled

Angel : Twombly, born in the United States in 1928, studied at the Boston School of Fine Arts. He began exhibiting works in 1951 that were influenced by Franz Kline, whose gestural expressionism in black and white he adopted, and by Paul Klee, who was more interested in child imagery.

From 1952 he traveled in North Africa and Europe and then settled in Rome in 1959.

Oriane : Oh, doodles ! I know how to do it too !

Angel : Scribbles, maybe, but with a whole vocabulary of signs having metaphorical meanings sometimes sexually charged…

Oriane : Well, here we are ! I believed naively in infantile drawings… Do you think that by analyzing more precisely, we can decipher some signs and deduce a meaning ?

Angel : Yes, for example, this thing with black curly squiggles which hangs in the middle, what does it evoke to you ? And next to it on the left, the pink zone between two parallel forms ?

Oriane : So there, we exceed largely my weak skills of graphological and psychoanalytical analyst !

Alberto Giacometti

Donna sgozzata (Femme égorgée), 1932

Alberto Giacometti - Donna sgozzata (Femme égorgée), 1932 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Alberto Giacometti - Donna sgozzata (Femme égorgée), 1932

Oriane : Oh, a half squashed scorpion?

Angel : Almost ! Hihi! It is indeed a venomous insect in a bad state… But not a scorpion…

Look at the title!

Oriane : Woman with throat slit ???

Angel : And yes… It is the representation of Alberto Giacometti (the son of Giovani Giacometti)! He uses a surrealist technique to express his vision of the woman as both victim and author of male sexuality: she takes the form of a pseudo-insect, eviscerated.

Her anatomical parts are displaced and represented in an abstract way. The whole body is rigidified in an attitude of tetany expressing an infinite violence.

Oriane : He had to be a little psychologically disturbed by one or several women when he realized this sculpture !

Pablo Picasso

Il poeta (Le poète), 1911

Pablo Picasso - Il poeta (Le poète), 1911 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Pablo Picasso - Il poeta (Le poète), 1911

Angel : A poet? Ha good!

Oriane : This is a work from 1911, when Picasso was exploring analytical cubism, that is to say the fusion of the object in its space.

For that, all the composition was fragmented. But at some point the paintings became too abstract for Picasso’s taste.

That’s why he started to integrate a pyramidal structure in his compositions, as here, to give back some visibility to the object.

Angel : It’s true that when you move away from the painting, you can still see a character, but that’s not enough to call him a poet !

You have to be the author to know it! Or to be part of the circle…

Joan Miro

Donna seduta II (Femme assise II), 1939

Joan Miró - Donna seduta II (Femme assise II), 27 febbraio 1939 Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice
Joan Miró - Donna seduta II (Femme assise II), 27 febbraio 1939

Angel : 1939… A seated woman, in the middle of the Spanish civil war…

Oriane : Yes, it is the war in Spain and the beginning of the war in Europe. This canvas is painted on the mode of the expressionism, that is to say that it does not show the world such as it is but it expresses it.

The aggressive, almost bestial head expresses anguish. But the shoulders are wide and stable, symbolizing solidity…

Angel : There are a lot of symbols in this composition : the bird symbolizes the air, the fish symbolizes the water, the moon, the stars, the planets invite to a cosmic reflection.

Haha, I see that you answer rather well to this invitation!

To learn more about the Peggy Guggenheim collection, we invite you to visit the Guggenheim Museum of Venice website

For those who want to anticipate and have a skip the line pass, it is better to buy an ACTV vaporetto pass.
To get around Venice you will find all the descriptions of the vaporetto lines and their schedules on our website.

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