Peggy in Venice. Photographed by Nino Migliori
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
April 7– July 26, 2010
In 1958, Peggy Guggenheim was photographed by celebrated Italian photographer Nino Migliori (b. 1929) in her Venetian home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, now the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year. Led by his considerable intellectual curiosity, Nino Migliori spent much time in Venice in the late 1950s. He frequented artists such as Emilio Vedova, Tancredi Parmeggiani, Giuseppe Santomaso, Virgilio Guidi and occasionally even Peggy Guggenheim, who was a focal point for Italian Abstract painters in post-war years, particularly Vedova and Tancredi.
Migliori is among the few photographers who, with his off camera experiments of the late 1940s, could be fully defined as “abstract expressionist”. Using the potential specific to the materials of the photographic medium, his work achieved a pure abstraction in line with the modernist sensibilities represented in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection’s post war art. When Migliori met Peggy Guggenheim in 1958, however, he used the camera as a traditional means of portraiture. “The house was different from anything I had ever experienced,” recalls Migliori. “[…] It was the perfect expression of Peggy’s own determined and volatile personality, enigmatic but predictable. The works of art were not hung for decoration; they were an integral part of a suggestive and emotive ambience.” His refined black and white photographs capture the American collector in her beloved Venetian mansion, between its intimate walls with her personal belongings in the background —fragments of a life and witnesses to her farsightedness in avant-garde art and culture. She appears in these images with her astonishing “business cards” around her: from Alexander Calder’s headboard, to Jackson Pollock’s first drip paintings—only recently seen in Italy for the first time —and works by Braque and Brancusi.
Peggy in Venice offers a little known side of Nino Migliori’s work: a selection of large-format photographs never before shown in public, generously donated by Giovanni and Anna Rosa Cotroneo. For the occasion, Roberto Maggiori has edited a short catalogue, published by Editrice Quinlan, Bologna.