mrs. simon: patron before a mirror

Mrs. Simon. Of all the Guggenheim art patrons, Mrs. Simon Guggenheim was less unconventional in her ways and means of philanthropy than other members of the family whose ventures and behavior were often deeply eccentric. Troublingly so. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim was nevertheless the donor of a list of phenomenal works by major modern masters. First aroused to an interest in contemporary art by the historic New York Armory show of 1913, Mrs. Guggenheim bided her time until the Museum of Modern Art was founded and then, in 1938, inaugurated a fund to help the museum enrich its collections with examples chosen with an eye to their having “permanent value.”

---The Sleeping Gypsy, oil painting by Henri Rousseau, 1897; in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, gift of Mrs. Simon Guggenheim---Read More:

In her own home, she was the collector of early Renaissance painters such as Crivelli and Filippino Lippi. But to the Modern Museum she gave, along with a long list of other key works, no less than eight Picasso’s including Girl Before a Mirror, which she called “simultaneously clothed, nude and X-rayed” which still retains its puzzling qualities. She was also a trustee of the museum and sat at the committee that passed on acquisitions which sometimes included works produced on John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships.

---Pablo Picasso. (Spanish, 1881-1973). Girl before a Mirror. Boisgeloup, March 1932. Oil on canvas. 64 x 51 1/4" (162.3 x 130.2 cm). Gift of Mrs. Simon Guggenheim. © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. ---Read More:

( see link at end) …Established in 1925 by former United States Senator and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, in memory of seventeen-year-old John Simon Guggenheim, the elder of their two sons, who died April 26, 1922, the Foundation has sought from its inception to “add to the educational, literary, artistic, and scientific power of this country, and also to provide for the cause of better international understanding,” as the Senator explained….

Picasso. Night Fishing at Antibes. bought by Mrs. Guggenheim for the Museum of Modern Art . Image:

…Between three and four thousand people apply for Guggenheims each year, and roughly two hundred of them are chosen. Aaron Copland was a member of the first “class” of fellows in 1925, followed by (among many, many others) W.H. Auden, Jacques Barzun, Romare Bearden, Saul Bellow, Harold Clurman, Arlene Croce, Merce Cunningham, Stuart Davis, Edwin Denby, Leon Edel, Walker Evans, Martha Graham, Marsden Hartley, Nat Hentoff, David Ives, Randall Jarrell, Keith Jarrett, Alex Katz, Pauline Kael, Jacob Lawrence, Alan Lomax, Marianne Moore, Errol Morris, Mark Morris, Vladimir Nabokov, Martin Puryear, Charles Rosen, Ned Rorem, Andrew Sarris, Virgil Thomson, Lionel Trilling, John Updike, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wilbur, Alec Wilder, August Wilson, and Edmund Wilson.Read More:


( see link at end) …Marianne Moore had similarly said that the Foundation was “revered the more for its modestly quiet manner of giving which is personified by its president, Mrs. Simon Guggenheim. . . . Giving is good, but when the manner of giving is itself a gift, then it is better—benevolence in this instance as anonymously unrestrictive as Deity’s.” In a letter that Mrs. Guggenheim wrote on November 14, 1959, for presentation to the Trustees after her death, she said, “For the distant future I must rely upon a body of trustees who will have caught from you and your successors the vision that you and the Founders have had, and who by their wisdom will be able to maintain an organization to keep that vision warm and effective.” During the three decades between her husband’s death and her own, she was generous with year-end gifts to the Foundation, and she made the Foundation residuary legatee of her estate. As a result, it received $41,496,167 over the next two years; with this capital addition, the value of the Foundation’s assets rose from $55,000,000 at the end of 1969 to $115,000,000 by the end of 1972….Read More:

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