Karole P.B. Vail, Peggy Guggenheim’s granddaughter is to take over as director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. She will be replacing Philip Rylands who held the top job for thirty-seven years. Vail has been a curator at the Guggenheim in New York and has organised major exhibitions on Giacometti and Moholy-Nagy. She will start her new job in a months time.
Vail Vows To “Carry Forward Peggy’s Vision”
“I have known and loved Peggy’s collection and the Palazzo and garden that are its home since I was a child. Now it is my privilege and honour to lead this exceptional institution, carrying forward Peggy’s vision and ensuring that it remains a vital part of today’s culture, as she would have wanted it to be.”
Last year three of Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandchildren accused the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York of not honouring the spirit of the late collector’s vision. They stated in papers filed that the Guggenheim Foundation in New York exhibited 181 works at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, that were not part of the permanent collection. They believed that Peggy Guggenheim only wanted work from the collection displayed in the main house and works not belonging to the collection were only to be temporarily displayed in out buildings. The museum was meant to display the collection at all times with loans not a key purpose for the museum.
The foundation told Artlyst; “Peggy Guggenheim made a lifetime gift of her collection in 1976 and the deed of gift contained no conditions relating to its display or otherwise. Her will contained absolutely no reference to her collection or its display. There have never been 181 works other than collection works displayed in the Palazzo nor have the great-grandchildren asserted that there were. The Paris District Court and the Cour d’Appel have both dismissed any and all claims brought by the three great-grandchildren.”
The flagship New York museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is currently exhibiting Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim which runs until 6 September. This exhibition focuses on collectors who contributed to the foundation’s core ethos. The show includes 21 works from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Members of the family disputed the loan and publicly stated that this would not have been Peggy’s wishes. Hopefully, now Karole Vail will be able to put to rest this very public family squabble.
Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) was born in New York to the mining tycoon Benjamin Guggenheim, who died aboard the Titanic. At 21 she moved to Paris where she associated with many of the Europe’s finest avant-garde artists and writers.
As the II World War broke out in Europe, she moved to London then New York, to open galleries. where she helped establish the careers of artists such as Jackson Pollock and Max Ernst (she was briefly married to the latter). By 1949, she was living in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal in Venice, where she displayed her collection of Modern art.
Karole P.B. Vail Photo: David M. Heald; © The Solomon Guggenheim Foundation New York, 2017