I think it’s pretty important to share experiences that influence and inspire me. Storytelling is also something I love doing. So, while recently in Venice, Italy, it occurred to me that I consider what I possibly share with Peggy Guggenheim. I had to laugh out loud that I’d even consider the comparison. But, the more I was learning about her story and her actual life, the more I realized there were some amazing commonalities. I hope that she’d be proud to know that someone likens himself to her, and in a good way.
Peggy Guggenheim was daughter to one of the children of the prolific Guggenheim clan. Very modest Immigrants from a German-speaking part of Switzerland, the family amassed a fortune in metals mining. Peggy’s father pulled out of the family business before the greatest fortunes were ever made. He is forever regarded as a hero, trying to save the lives of others as the Titanic sank. He perished in the accident. Peggy’s uncle, Solomon, was her super wealthy uncle, and prolific art collector. That’s the story about the Guggenheims.
While I would never profess to possibly share anything with her family, her personal story is what makes me consider what I possibly share with Peggy Guggenheim.
The story about Peggy is that she was virtually friendless as a child. She was also maligned for her appearance. Once she gained a sense of herself, she realized that she had a love of art. She took advantage of her resources, and pursued a life of art. She befriended artists and supported them. In some cases, especially the Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollack, she significantly contributed to making them famous and successful.
I learned a lot about Peggy Guggenheim in advance of visiting Venice with my longtime friends Susan and Jan. As soon as we decided to visit Venice together, I saw a blurb from my synagogue about the showing of a film on a Saturday afternoon entitled Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict. I was working in San Francisco that day and missed the movie. So, as a treat, I rented it on Apple TV the next morning. Lo and behold: She owned a palazzo in Venice that became a museum.
Having reached that point of the documentary, I nearly dropped off the sofa in my living room. I was totally excited. For all that I know about Modern Art, the last thing I expected to learn is that there is a treasure trove of it in Venice. I became super excited about the upcoming weekend there. Fast forward a couple of weeks and there I was, in Venice. While enjoying the environs of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, I recalled her life story. You can feel the energy of the artwork for sure. But, I could also feel the energy of a collector, of a woman who poured her life into what she most loved doing.
Then it all hit me about what I could possibly share with Peggy Guggenheim. I felt sad when I learned that she had virtually no friends as a child. Even as an adult she struggled to connect socially. Peggy was just different. I connect with this a lot in that I grew up without any sustainable friendships throughout childhood. Even early adulthood was similarly tough. After relocating to Silicon Valley, making and keeping platonic friends has also been a challenge. But, don’t cry for me, because the story gets better, just like Peggy’s.
She spent so much time with the artists she represented in London, New York, and eventually in Venice, that they became her compadres. Similarly, I am so lucky to have such close and intimate relationships with my clients that, quite often, they are also my very special friends. I feel very fortunate to have those kinds of relationships, and that it comes from my deep sense of caring.
Like Peggy, I pour my resources into my work. Based on what clients have generously said, I’m a person who has helped them to make the most of themselves. In thinking about Peggy Guggenheim’s greatest achievements, she helped to make the most of artists who she took in. It made me think of how it’s possible that maybe I treat my clients as if they were artists, like Jackson Pollock. He was really able to spread his wings under her support. So, while I offer a whole different type of support to my clients than Peggy did with her artists, the point is the same.
Art came to Peggy the same way that fashion and style came to me. It was out of survival. Art, as it turns out, was Peggy’s gift. She had an eye for it, and a heart for it. Fashion and personal style has become not just my salvation, but is the gift that I get to share with you. More than that, fashion and personal style revealed to me my love of storytelling. This makes me a different type of personal stylist. I’m not the one to come to in order to learn what the trend of the week is. I’m the one you work with to help you tell your story.
What I possibly share with Peggy Guggenheim is that we both found our art and made lives for ourselves out of our mutual love for each of our art forms. Far from done with living, I’m following in her footsteps. But, I hope to leave a legacy behind one day that enhances the world of personal style for all those who find its power to be transformative.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs and executives discover their personal brands and design their personal styles. Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know “6 Secrets to Success in Silicon Valley.” Get details about Joseph’s proven program that transforms your life through personal brand and style development.