interesting women, Persons

Interesting Women: Peggy Guggenheim

David’s cracking (since 2008 btw), armer Hund. Three hundred years leaning at an angle in front of the signoria ; all that bird crap ; then brought into a house & cleaned with distilled water ; today stared at by thousands and thousands of people every day, who make the bottom shake in veneration, no wonder the ankles give in : Stronger men crumbled earlier.

I am not yet finished with the autobiography of Peggy GUGGENHEIM * (Ger., Eng). Her first name is Marguerite. (Beautiful.)
I have followed her through her childhood (the beloved father, who sank with the Titanic), her Backfischjahre – until she decided that virginity is overrated and that her later first husband (Ger.) should work through all the positions she had seen on those Italian postcards of the Pompeian frescoes -, right into her first, stormy, marriage.
I confess that I flipped through her book a bit and especially had a look at the chapter that deals with her return to America from war ridden “old Europe”, finally on 13th of July 1941 on board of a clipper (Ger., Eng.) : “Wir waren elf Leute: ein Ehemann, zwei Ex-Ehefrauen, ein zukünftiger Ehemann und sieben Kinder” / “We were eleven people: one husband, two ex-wives, one future husband and seven children.”
What surprises and touches me is that she was a beaten wife. Her first husband, Laurence VAIL, the father of her two children Sindbad ** and tragic Pegeen (Eng.), was a beater, who, when drunk (pretty often) liked to make a scene and punch his wife in public and in private.
Being part of la boheme and at the cutting edge of avantguarde does not automatically make a man recognise that women are equal human beings, no punching bags & not just the mothers of children, who also do a little painting & writing ‘n stuff. I had to understand this a new. The cultural history of the Western & European societies through the 20th century is dominated by groups of painters, writers, artists etc. that are male dominated – at least thinking of it right now, I can not come up with a female dominated group. Not even a female group. I think the more important is the exhibition “31 Women” GUGGENHEIM curated in the 40s. (Look at this blog for them, read more there.)
Maybe it is time to do something along this lines now, at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century ? I may be out of touch – and I am really not involved in gender history – but would it not be interesting to have an overview over women’s art since the second world war, at least in the West ?
Possibly someone already did this – please point me in the right direction, dear readers !

Peggy’s husbands – as far as I read now – were disappointing: Number one was a beater ; number two an alcoholic, who died after a surgical procedure (I have not found out, what they were doing ; it was carried out in their private home, and is always referred to as a “minor intrusion” ; the doctors went away after telling her that her husband was dead ; yeah, there’s really nothing left to do then … ) ; number three was an idiot ; number four was Max ERNST (Ger., Eng.), I still have to read about this marriage.
She really lived it all, came a very long way, and she is definitely a very – very – interesting woman, this strange Marguerite GUGGENHEIM.

* GUGGENHEIM, Peggy: Ich habe alles gelebt. Bekenntnisse einer Sammlerin aus Leidenschaft, Bern und München, 3. Aufl. 1980 (zuerst: Out of this Century – Confessions of an Art Addict, 1946)

** I found nothing about him on the web. Am I too lazy ?



Mole Antonielliana (Ger., Eng.) [roughly: The very big thing ANTONELLI (Ger., Eng.) built] is in itself a phantastic setting (a bit foggy in Turino when I looked the last time). It houses the lauded national film museum (Ger. article), one of several in Italy.
Originally built as synagogue Mole was for a long time one of the largest brick buildings in the world, only later it was reinforced with concrete and steel. I found it because the comments by Looby and Hipster Yaya here were about films and where one can find them. I think in the first part not about theatrical motion pictures, but documentaries, news reels – source materials for any kind of topic. I turned to Wikipedia hoping there would be a list of international institutions, Filmarchive, but sadly there are only national archives and museums listed (Ger.). “Filmarchiv” in Català brings better results, as does “Cinematheque” (Eng.). And finally we have an international list of film archives (Eng.) – and there is an organisation too. Additionally there is this list.
I already mentioned the BFI and the British Pathè; there is the Spanish film archive, the French one (mit der Aussenstelle Toulouse);  the US have a handful of these institutions, I think the Moma has a film archive too. British Pathè brings us to the Wochenschau (Ger., Eng., list), the Newsreel archive and its youtube channel. There seems to be no coherent collection of the Deutsche Wochenschau or Welt im Bild. I also miss French Pathè and all the others … yes I did not really search for it, but … is it possible that some million kilometers of film are still not digitized?
Finally, while I blab about old films, here is an example: French Pathè, 1908, Moscow in snow – what else? – I hope you enjoy it.




Ahld’s Zeuch*

Ach what water does to books … here you see the front of a nicely bound book printed 1719, half-leather (halbleder) with a nice marmorated paper, that sadly is coming off from the Buchdeckel – I am sorry, I am not firm with the English termini. But you can easily recognize, what I mean. The pictures should be enlargable and scrollable if you like to click them.



It’s a small exemplar, sorry the meter is not correctly adjusted, it’s just the first snaps to have something in hands, so that the books themselves can lay undisturbed.

Here we have a representative full leather tome from 1532, showing the heavily decorated front:



You can see how wellig the leather became. And yes, you may have a glimpse at my wonderful legs.

Here we have two pics of a volume from 1539, a very representative piece with goldgeprägten Ornamenten; it also has a vergoldeten Schnitt mit zusätzlichen Schmuckpunzierungen, I could not photograph this. I keep this one separated from the others, because it’s the only one that shows traces of mould (Schimmel), but I think it’s nothing to worry about in the actual situation, giving from where they come from. The lovelies need some air now, and darkness. I would be thankful for a cooler place to store them, but it is not possible; the actual alternatives would even be worse. There is a small chance that we can use another house sometime in autumn that would give better accommodation, but it’s just an idea now. (On the other hand – they can be pretty fast-acting here if they want.)



And here comes the maltreated spine of this once gorgeous tome:



The leather is actually thus brüchig (fragile) that I avoid any unnecessary touch. I do not believe that it is possible to keep all of the original material, and I feel no need to harm it any more. The actual situation of storing is acceptable, for some time, we’ll see.
I have to check out now how many of these titles are here in Bavaria / Germany available – is something rare, is it just another thing you find in any library of the frühe Neuzeit? – you get the idea.

This awful water damage must have happened roughly forty years ago. No one in the actual administration or working elsewhere on the grange has seen it, it is all hear-say. Only the oldest janitor remembers that he helped to transport the books to their current location – years ago, he is close to retirement.
The books shown above came to me this Monday, because the young successor of a long time Abteilungsleiter (I just translate it with “head of a departement”, it fits here) has to move his office space; the old head retired some months ago, I may not have seen him. I think I should visit the man and have a nice conversation with him about what happened forty years ago. He recovered seemingly anything that was there and fell into his special field. I know that there must have been other things I miss … I guess there are some dogs sleeping.

* That’s Franconian for “Altes Zeug”, old stuff.


Paint it black

The big trial started on the 1st of  September and was planned to last until March 2012 (40 days of trial, more than 100 witnesses), but the sentence was pronounced on the 27th of October: Six years for the maindefendant, Wolfgang FISCHER-BELTRACCHI (60), four years for his wife Helene BELTRACCHI (52), one year and nine months for her sister Jeanette (54), and five years for the accomplice Otto SCHULTE-KELLINGHAUS (67). This was the result of a so-called deal between the parties and based on an extensive confession of the main defendant: “Alle Bilder habe ich allein gemalt” , “I alone painted all the pictures”. “All” means 14 that were subject of this trial. (For a gallery go here, but do not miss to scroll down for a list of 53 titles the investigators could connect with the forgers.)
The story they told was simple. Helene and Jeanette brought pictures to auctioneers and galleries claiming they were out of the possession of their grandfather Werner JAEGERS (Ger. only), a merchant and industrialist in the Rhineland, who died 1992. He would have bought them from the famous collector Alfred FLECHTHEIM (Ger. only). The partner in crime SCHULTE-KELLINGHAUS also sold pictures from his grandfather’s collection, the tailor Wilhelm KNOPS from Krefeld, who died 1957 and would have been a good friend of JAEGERS. The legend was proofed by the sign of the Flechtheim gallery on the back of the paintings. This was as forged as the paintings themselves, we have here complete falsifications. Indeed these signs were identified as forgery by the Flechtheim-specialist Ralph JENTSCH, what nailed the case. The brake-through for the forgers came with “Rotes Bild mit Pferden” allegedly by the expressionist Heinrich CAMPENDONK (Ger., Eng.), sold via the auctioneer LEMPERTZ for 2.4 million Euro in 2006.
But suspicion arose. Further investigation and scientific examination proofed the use of modern paints and pigments not available at the time when this (and other) paintings were created. The rest was police work and investigation. The three main suspects were arrested and came into pretrial detention in September 2010. The convicts came free after the sentence was proclaimed, they will serve their sentences im freien Vollzug, what means that they visit the can over night. BELTRACCHI said the money would be gone, just a single million left on a Swiss account; this will be transferred back to the Staatskasse for legal costs, maybe for one or another wronged party a small reimbursement is possible.
But there are seemingly not many people queuing up for compensation.
Most of the paintings FISCHER-BELTRACCHI produced and sold, be it via his wife and her sister or his mate Otto, are gone, vanished. The other 49 paintings wer not subject of the trial because the investigations were not finished yet, water tight was only the case of the 14. BELTRACCHI & Co. seemingly slammed on the brake, accepted the inevitable and so stopped investigations into the other paintings, those that were already known. The known damage is quantified with circa 16 million Euro.
Some interesting questions remain unanswered.
How many paintings were forged? How were they sold? Who produced the “Expertise”, the evaluation of each single work of art – and signed it? Where ARE they?
Paintings are seen as store of value, as something that will keep its value regardless of the name of the currency, be it Euro, Dollar or Mark. And often they are paid with Schwarzgeld, illicit money. Original BELTRACCHIS will show up over the next twenty or thirty years in auctions and galleries, maybe some are already in museums – ah, the museums … The fooled will stay silent, wounded vanities will be kept secret, people will forget.
It’s all make-believe.

Paint it black feat. Karel Gott.

(Articles in SPIEGEL, Zeit, Handelsblatt;  on Bloomberg, Businessweek.)