Henri Matisse, the light

Invitation card of the exhibition Henri Matisse for the opening of the Maeght Gallery, 1945, 24 x32 cm.
The master becomes the friend of the Maeght family settled in Vence, after having left Cannes precipitately, following the arrest of Jean Moulin friend of Aimé.

Marguerite naturally became Matisse's model. According to his method of creation, he draws, draws, redraws the portrait until he has his line, his right line. There are 21 drawings of Marguerite. Some of these sessions of pose are filmed, because already Aimé has the sense of the posterity and the memory of the history of the Art.
Marguerite Maeght posing for her portrait by Henri Matisse, filmed by the young Adrien Maeght, 1944.
Around Aimé: Matisse, Bonnard, Rouault (who lives in Grasse), the Dutchman Geer van Velde and the Russian Jean Pougny (in Cannes) then Picasso (in Vallauris) form a small community which frequents and helps each other daily. They all appreciated Marguerite's good food. Other artists passed through the Maeghts' home: Tristan Bernard, Thadée Natanson of the Revue Blanche, the poet Pierre Reverdy (to whom he would later dedicate an exhibition at the Foundation), the musician Reynaldo Hahn. A great understanding reigned in this small circle. The Maeghts saw Matisse almost every day, from the time they moved to Vence in 1942, until the painter's death in 1954.

View of the inaugural exhibition of the Maeght Gallery in Paris, October 1945.

« Matisse bouleverse toutes les définitions où l’on a tenté de l’enfermer : caché dans sa lumière, il n’est pas de peintre plus secret.» -  Jean Bazaine, Derrière Le Miroir, 1952
At the Liberation, Henri Matisse, without a gallery and without an appointed dealer, encouraged Aimé Maeght to move to Paris: "If you set up something in Paris to prove my confidence, I want it to be me who makes the opening exhibition." The inauguration of the first Maeght Gallery takes place on December 6, 1945 with the drawings of Matisse made during the war. It is a success of esteem. "I found near Matisse a spirit that was the counterpoint of that of Bonnard. He was called Herr Professor, he knew how to explain, to give the reasons for his creation; Bonnard, on the other hand, did not know, he let himself be carried by his intuition. Matisse is an art of an apparent ease, it strips to keep only the essential " concludes Aimé Maeght.

Aimé Maeght, shortly before, in Cannes, said: "I no longer wanted to be a dealer in paintings, in truth I want to be a publisher. From the opening of the Galerie Maeght, is published the magazine Pierre à feu, a true literary manifesto that will be printed in 40,000 copies, in pocket size, to be sold in the kiosks of station. Poetry within everyone's reach, in a way... Nice ideal. In 1947, Matisse created the cover of an issue of Pierre à feu with cut-out papers that prefigured "Jazz", published the same year by Tériade.

Aimé Maeght brings together his friends painters and poets in books with limited editions, with unpublished texts enriched with original engravings. And, at a time when the world displays all its violence and ugliness, he realizes his old dream, his great idea, marrying painting and poetry.

"Matisse draws from very close, at a distance where a woman's body becomes hills, skies, lakes of shadow. Where the outline of a flower is torn like storm clouds. The "outside" world is not an object detached from him. Its forms, they are less the terms of its knowledge than the paths of its passion. Not the curiosity of a walker, but the ardent, blind itinerary of a lover who does not think of hips, flowers or faces, but identifies with them. Jean Bazaine , Behind The Mirror , 1952.