Fondation Maeght - Construction

Aimé Maeght wished to establish his foundation on the hill of Saint Paul near the family home, the Mas Bernard, named after their late son. During the clearing of the forest, the remains of a modest chapel are unearthed, which turns out to be dedicated to Saint-Bernard. Aimé sees a disturbing sign.

For the Maeghts, there are no great achievements without love, without belief. In the -Christian- eyes of Marguerite, this sign is an obvious one: it is necessary to start by rebuilding the chapel. Sert seized the idea to articulate the buildings around this edifice, like the houses of a traditional village around a church.
The idea of a center of life appears in the image of a village plan. Josep Lluis Sert, as a humanist, designed an architecture dedicated to artists as well as to simple amateurs. A large entrance field, an agora, buildings around patios, a campanile for the chapel, a house for the artists...

All the artists of the Maeght gallery, but also poets and relatives rush into the adventure of the Foundation. Each one of them made his own proposal. Aimé listens, synthesizes, organizes. Each artist "Maeght" will find in the Foundation, its space and appropriate it to the extent of his talent. The artists know how to be the companions of the conception of the Foundation, but, and especially, will be omnipresent in the life of the Foundation.

On the terrace of Mas Bernard, analysis of the plans of the Fondation Maeght by Marguerite Maeght, Alberto Giacometti, Louis Clayeux (then director of the Maeght Gallery and Josep-Lluis Sert.

Chagall wanted a room to exhibit only one monumental painting, the one he wanted to paint for this place, the project of his whole life. Conversely, Giacometti wanted a room with intimate dimensions. Braque and Ubac designed the stained glass windows and the Way of the Cross for the chapel. Tal-Coat offered to paint the surrounding wall.

Work began on September 5, 1960. The artists were omnipresent and even had picnics on the construction site. The buildings were erected, taking advantage of the slope of the ground to avoid monotony.

Sert can finally apply his theory of zenithal lighting and develop his famous "light traps". He also plays with the interior/exterior relationship with numerous openings onto nature that give rhythm to the exhibition spaces.

Sert plans to use roughcast concrete walls, discovering the brick and stone of the country, he favors them: The brick maintains the reality of the wall, giving to its surface, a body to its elevation. 300,000 bricks of pink sand, fired in a wood-fired oven, from the nearby factory of Clausonnes, reopened for the occasion, are used to build the Foundation. Aimé Maeght and Josep Lluis Sert share a respect for the environment and nature, a taste for real materials. The design is subject to the constraints of climate while taking into account the management of energy. The impluviums bring shade and coolness to the buildings and collect rainwater that feeds the many pools. The natural ventilation of the rooms provides the air conditioning necessary for the conservation of the works. The stones extracted from the basement are used to raise the walls... This new architectural approach will make it the first French building qualified as HQU (High Environmental Quality).

Alberto Giacometti and Josep Lluis Sert

Each element is specifically designed by the artists, Alberto and Diego Giacometti take care of the lighting fixtures, the bronze furniture, even the door handles. Even the floor is composed of slabs with amazing shapes. Braque traces his fish for a mosaic basin. Chagall also uses the mosaic to decorate the wall of the bookshop. A major place is reserved for the world of Miró. From the friendship between the Catalans Miró, Sert and the ceramist Josep Llorens Artigas, was born the fantastic labyrinth. Miró's Ariadne's thread runs along the dry stone walls that surround the marble, iron, ceramic and even concrete sculptures.

Four years are necessary to build the whole entirely financed by the Maeght, without support from the state.
The book La Saga Maeght by Yoyo Maeght, with dedication. Link here