Karole P. B. Vail (born 1959) is an American museum director, curator and writer. Since 2017, she has been the director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Director for Italy. Prior to this appointment, she worked on the curatorial staff at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York for 20 years.
Vail is the younger daughter of Michael Cedric Sindbad Vail (1923–1986) and Margaret "Peggy" Angela Vail (née Yeomans; d. 1988), who married in 1957. Vail grew up in Europe and spent 12 years in Florence, Italy; she first became familiar with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection as a child. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Durham University in England and a Diploma in Art History from the New Academy for Art Studies in London.
Before joining the Guggenheim, Vail was an archivist and researcher at the arts publishing house Centro Di in Florence and worked as an assistant curator on independent projects. She is a co-founder and co-director of Non-Objectif Sud, a not-for-profit artist residency and exhibition program in the south of France.
Exhibitions and writings
Before leaving New York, Vail was preparing an upcoming Alberto Giacometti retrospective for the Guggenheim Museum in New York to be exhibited in 2018. For the New York museum, she previously curated or co-curated such exhibitions as Moholy-Nagy: Future Present (2016), a László Moholy-Nagy retrospective; From Berlin to New York: Karl Nierendorf and the Guggenheim (2008); the museum's 50th anniversary exhibition Art of Tomorrow: Hilla Rebay and Solomon R. Guggenheim, which examined the collaborative relationship between the two founders of the museum (2005–06); and Peggy Guggenheim: A Centennial Celebration (1998). She curated the exhibition (and edited the accompanying catalogue) about her grandmother, Peggy Guggenheim, The Last Dogaressa, on view at the Collection in late 2019.
Her publications include Peggy Guggenheim: A Celebration (1998); The Museum of Non-Objective Painting: Hilla Rebay and the Origins of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2009); Moholy-Nagy: Future Present, which received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 Awards for Excellence of the Association of Art Museum Curators; and Art of Tomorrow: Hilla Rebay and Solomon R. Guggenheim. She also organized exhibitions and wrote catalogue entries about Wassily Kandinsky, Nesuhi Ertegun, Daniel Filipacchi, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lucio Fontana, Richard Pousette-Dart, Gabriele Münter, Pablo Picasso and Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, among others.
Personal life and family
Vail is a member of the Guggenheim family. Her great grandfather was Benjamin Guggenheim, who died in the sinking of the Titanic, and her paternal grandparents were Peggy Guggenheim and Laurence Vail, a poet and sculptor whose works are represented in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Her great grand uncle was Solomon R. Guggenheim.
- Barone, Joshua. "The Peggy Guggenheim Collection Names Its New Director", The New York Times, June 8, 2017, accessed July 30, 2017
- Harris, Gareth. "Peggy Guggenheim’s granddaughter takes the reins at the late collector’s Venetian museum", The Art Newspaper, June 8, 2017
- Vail, Karole P. B. Peggy Guggenheim: A Centennial Celebration Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (1998), p. 78. ISBN 0-8109-6914-9
- Bucci, Stefano. "Guggenheim, ritorno a Venezia nel segno di mia nonna Peggy", Corriere Della Sera, Italy, June 8, 2017
- "Results of Final Examinations Held in June 1980; Final Examination for the Degree of B.A. in General Studies", Gazette, Vol. XXV, no. 2, Supplement, Durham University Archive, 31 January 1981, accessed 1 May 2019, p. 39
- "The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Appoints Karole P.B. Vail to Lead the Peggy Guggenheim Collection", Guggenheim.org, June 8, 2017
- Durón, Maximilíano. "Karole P.B. Vail Named Director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection", ArtNews, June 8, 2017
- Marshall, Lee. "The Collector's Collector", The Independent, September 12, 1998, accessed July 31, 2017
- "Peggy Guggenheim, The Last Dogaressa". Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
- Vail's official biographical profile from the Guggenheim Foundation