Fondation Maeght - Birth of the project

In 1950, while the Maeght Gallery, opened in Paris in 1945, prospers, everything seems without shadow. However, the Maeght family experiences a tragedy. Bernard, the young son of Aimé and Marguerite Maeght, was diagnosed with leukemia. The disease leads the Maeghts to move to Varengeville and then back to the French Riviera where the air would be beneficial to the little one. They bought a property on a hill facing Saint Paul. After months of struggle, Bernard died in 1953. It is only thanks to the support and presence of artists that the Maeght family managed to overcome the ordeal of the disappearance of the child.

It is the friend Braque, supported by André Malraux, who suggests to Marguerite and Aimé Maeght to launch a new enterprise. A madness: the creation, ex-nihilo, of a place of a completely new type: When Braque came to join me in Saint-Paul, a month after the death of my little boy, I was in despair. He said to me: Since you are so keen to do something that would not have a speculative purpose, that would allow us artists to exhibit sculpture and painting in the best possible conditions of light and space. Do it, I will help you. Thus, the foundations of the Maeght Foundation are born.

Georges Braque and Aimé Maeght

Following the death of Bernard, Marguerite and Aimé Maeght, deeply affected, undertake, on the advice of Fernand Leger, a trip to the United States. The idea of Braque and Malraux to create a public place makes its way. In 1955, they visited the American foundations: Barnes, Phillips, Guggenheim. Little by little, the desire to create a place where they could gather their collection and where their artist friends could work and exchange ideas became clear.
In France, at the end of the war, only one place counts and concentrates art and artists: Paris. Choosing Saint-Paul was a challenge. It is for Aimé Maeght the opportunity to do creative work. He felt cramped in his Parisian gallery which had fifteen hundred to two thousand paintings and where he could only show forty or fifty at a time. "I needed air and space. I didn't want to make a super-gallery as a foundation, but something else that would belong to the community and at the same time be an independent enterprise to be able to act."

In the museums visited, both in France and abroad, Aimé Maeght did not find the light that illuminated the works of Picasso, Miró and Calder seen in the Spanish pavilion of the Universal Exhibition of 1937 in Paris. During a visit to Miró's new studio in Palma de Mallorca, Aimé was impressed by the beauty of the place and the functional aspect of the building, but it was above all the management of natural light that amazed Aimé. It was obvious that the same architect was used for both buildings: Josep Lluis Sert.
Immediately, Aimé Maeght went to Harvard to meet the Catalan architect who developed the theories of a new Mediterranean architecture. Together, they draw the broad lines of an "ideal gallery" in a unique site of the French Riviera, between the Mediterranean and the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps.
From the outset, they both rejected the idea of a closed museum with an imposed itinerary. Josep Lluis Sert advocates an architecture of climate thought for an intense sun, a limpid atmosphere and a pleasant landscape.
The book La Saga Maeght by Yoyo Maeght, with dedication. Link here