Four years after leaving the famous foundation with a bang, Yoyo Maeght publishes a family saga in which she settles her accounts. ELISABETH COUTURIER interview
Paris Match. Why reveal your family secrets?
Yoyo Maeght. As soon as my grandfather, Aimé Maeght, died, I wanted to write his story. There were no books about him, his gallery or his foundation. However, what a fantastic epic! I wanted to know how an orphan kid becomes the greatest art dealer in the world and the friend of Matisse, Braque, Giacometti, Miró, Prévert, Chagall.
You also tell the terrible backstage of the "Maeght saga".
At the start, I wanted to tell about everything that was visible: the exhibitions, the direct relations with the artists. Finally, I tell the whole Maeght story through my own eyes. The fact of having broken with my family explains this freedom. What was the origin of the conflict between your father and your grandfather? I asked my grandfather this question many times. When I was 18, he finally answered me vaguely: there is no anger strictly speaking, just disappointment. We, the granddaughters, lived badly with this situation. We were at all the openings, all the events, but without our parents.
You seem to hold your father responsible for the decline of the Maeght empire. Why ?
I've always thought that you don't have to wear the image of your family. No need to take up the challenge! We can say to ourselves: "My father was a genius", which my father, Adrie n, seems not to have succeeded in doing, often evoking his father, Aimé, with severity. It's not bad to say, "I just want to try to be happy and make my children happy." Of course, we have to pass on the family heritage, but if I had to choose, for me, happiness would come first.
Does your father hold his children with his money, like his father did?
No, not at all. Grandpa allowed him to be independent, it's very different. he offered him to have his own activities, a loom and a printing press with a hundred workers who worked almost exclusively with the artists of the Galerie Maeght. Isn't it the printing press that made the fortune of the Maeghts? The Gallery published more than 12,000 engravings, but also sold many paintings. The works of Chagall, Bonnard, and Braque were very expensive; Calder, it was starting to be worth a little bit; Kandinsky sold poorly. Let's say that my father, Adrien, knew how to make the editions profitable, he was undeniably gifted for that.
You say he can be unfair and heartless.
He is an intelligent and humorous man, but he wants to control everything. I escape him after having served the Maeght house for years, without being his enemy. He has his four children well in his hand. If they are docile, he loosens his fingers, if they do something he doesn't like, then he squeezes.
You are not charitable, either, with your sister, Isabelle.
Or is it she who is not with me? Dad should have stopped him. We alerted him. But nothing worked. Today, she controls almost all the family companies and private property, without sharing with us, her sisters. And four years ago, an event changed a lot of things.
What happened ?
At Saint-Paul-de-Vence, I saw seven gendarmes arrive at my house. My sister Isabelle's computer had allegedly disappeared. I leave to be searched, because I have nothing to hide. Then I have the right to a nocturnal interrogation at the gendarmerie on the pretext of a flagrant crime of theft, with genetic fingerprinting. That's when I said to myself that it took a total absence of family love to do this to his sister or his daughter.
What did you do next?
I filed a complaint for slanderous denunciation. And I went to court to demand accountability.
And you are out of the family?
I was rather thrown out!
To read you, one has the impression of a huge mess as the Galerie Maeght was an empire.
It's a huge mess, a broken family. As for the Galerie Maeght, the art world will judge. But, as René Char wrote: "The world of art is not the world of forgiveness."
How will they react to your view of things?
I don't know. They have more imagination than me! This book, for me, closes a story. I like to build, not destroy. I'm free now ; I can start a new life.
«La saga Maeght», by Yoyo Maeght, ed Robert Laffont, 336 pages, 21.50 euros