Pegeen Vail was born on August 18, 1926, in Switzerland. Her parents were Peggy Guggenheim and Laurence Vail, who divorced early in her life. Pegeen spent much of her childhood with her mother in Europe, particularly in England and France. At the onset of World War II, Pegeen and her brother Sinbad were living in Megeve with their father, but Peggy came to pick them up and took them to Lisbon before eventually settling in New York.
Pegeen had an interest in art from a young age and was encouraged by her mother. However, she was not established as an artist in the 1930s. Her primary locations of life and work were in New York and Paris, where she was part of her mother's social circles, which included Djuna Barnes, Antonia White, Emily Coleman, Marcel Duchamp, and Xenia and John Cage. She also had a close relationship with Leonora Carrington.
Pegeen's romantic life was complicated. She secretly married Jean Helion, with whom she had three children, but they eventually divorced. She later married Ralph Rumney, with whom she had a son. Pegeen had affairs with other men, including Tancredi, who lived in her mother's basement in Venice.
Pegeen exhibited her artwork in group shows before her first solo exhibition at Daylight Gallery in 1946. She continued to paint during the 1950s and exhibited her works primarily in Milan. One of her key artworks was "Joie de Vivre," painted in 1942, which was exhibited in the Exhibition by 31 Women, but its whereabouts are unknown.
Pegeen's life was marked by emotional turmoil and mental health struggles. She suffered from depression and was prone to unstable relationships. Pegeen died in Paris in 1967, leaving behind a legacy as an artist and a member of the influential social circle surrounding her mother, Peggy Guggenheim.
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