A fabulous femme who put her inheritance to great use championing American and European art, Peggy Guggenheim was THE trailblazing female collector of her generation. Renowned for her sense of style, Peggy’s foundation calls her a “self-described art addict who sought to distinguish herself from her business-oriented relatives and make her mark on the world through collecting and traveling in avant-garde circles.” She was a key collector of Surrealist art while married to one of its most famous progenitors, Max Ernst. She purchased an 18th-century Palazzo on Venice’s Grand Canal to showcase her collection, which, following her death, became part of her Uncle Solomon Guggenheim’s foundation in New York City. I’ve spent my life looking for sunglasses half as cool as Peggy’s signature frames – alas, to no avail. It goes to show that true originals can never be copied!
"Mrs. Jack Gardner is one of the seven wonders of Boston. There is nobody like her in any city in this country. She is a millionaire Bohemienne. She is the leader of the smart set, but she often leads where none dare follow… She imitates nobody; everything she does is novel and original." This quote from the Gardner Museum’s website sums up everything we love about this museum and the wealthy iconoclast who founded it – a woman truly after SVD’s own hearts! Inspired by a visit to Venice, she built a stunning Palazzo in the heart of Boston beginning in 1899. She filled it with the treasures she amassed during her world travels and stipulated everything remain exactly as she had hung or placed it after her death. When the museum was robbed in 1990, 13 artworks valued at over $500 million were stolen, and their empty frames still hang on the museums walls. Of course, we love a good mystery, and if you do too, check out the Boston Globe podcast about the famous Gardner heist called “Last Seen.”
Perhaps lesser known than Chicago’s two titans of the arts & culture scene -- The Art Institute and The Museum of Contemporary Art -- the Driehaus Museum “explores the art, architecture, and design of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with a focus on the Gilded Age.” Mr. Driehaus purchased Chicago’s famed Nickerson Mansion to showcase his extensive collection of decorative arts—Tiffany glass in particular. This makes it especially appealing to interior design enthusiasts – I loved an exhibit they hosted on “The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design.” 37 stunning chairs spanning the years 1810 to 2010 were on display, and it was hard to choose a favorite! The Driehaus is always worth visiting for the stunning Art Deco interiors of the building and the rare Tiffany lights in its permanent collection.