Press - Aimé Maeght, smuggler and patron

Favorite - Fifi Abou Dib: “Aimé Maeght, smuggler and patron”

The Maeght Foundation, in Saint Paul de Vence, is one of those places that you must have visited at least once in your life. This living museum, imagined by Aimé and Marguerite Maeght as a sanctuary under the pines, a village dedicated to creation built by the architect Josep Lluis Sert, encapsulates those who approach it in a bubble of serenity and inspiration. At the entrance, the Saint Bernard chapel decorated by Georges Braque. It is moreover this chapel which determined the choice of the place. The Maeght couple had in fact had a boy named Bernard, died prematurely of leukemia. The foundation was built during the years of mourning with the help of friends of Aimé and Marguerite, known as Guiguite: Miro, Picasso, Braque, Prévert, the Giacometti brothers and many others. It was inaugurated on the evening of July 24, 1964 by André Malraux, Secretary of State for Culture. Three little girls, hair pulled back, in white dresses, had handed over the keys to the tenor of the Fifth Republic. Three sisters: Isabelle, Florence and Françoise, the daughters of Adrien Maeght and granddaughters of the founders.

It is Françoise, known as Yoyo, today a magistrate, who takes up the pen to tell what life was like in the shadow of these gigantic grandparents whose close friends were the geniuses of their time.

Adrien Maeght, his father, apparently has difficulty with the monumental image of Aimé, a flamboyant visionary around whom the greatest artists in the world gravitate. He is passionate about classic cars and tries to live on the sidelines of the sprawling family business, while managing the precious lithographed editions of the Maeght gallery. His three daughters, who will later be joined by a boy, Jules, belong in a way to their grandparents. The more Adrien moves away, the more his children are present alongside Aimé and Guiguite. The girls are at all the openings. Aimé introduces them to his passions. With Guiguite, whom he met in his early days, when he was still an artisan printer and brilliant lithographer, he forms a united and complementary tandem. Armed with her rural common sense, she follows him in all his adventures and supports him in adversity, even if she sometimes feels overwhelmed by his extravagances. Thus, Yoyo relates this delicious episode where, in 1947, the Maeght gallery organized an exhibition dedicated to surrealism. Guiguite is appalled by “all these things against religion. » And Yoyo quotes this picturesque grandmother: “I'm not a bigot but I was raised in the Christian faith, it disturbed me a lot, I was scared, they are going to bring us bad luck”. And Guiguite to have holy water from Saint-Augustin carried to him and, boxwood branch in hand, to sprinkle the entire exhibition with it! “Breton, Miro, Matta, Brauner, Bellmer and the others laughed so much at what was ultimately unintentionally the most surrealist act of the exhibition: Guiguite blessing their works. »

Yoyo Maeght also recounts Aimé's immense apartment, avenue Foch, in Paris, where she played stacking chairs by Charlotte Perriand. These afternoons, when returning from school, were marked by a crossing of Paris aboard Aimé's Rolls to go visit Braque, to whom Yoyo one day gave colored pencils. “To make Miros,” she had recommended to him, believing that “Miro” was only a synonym for a beautiful drawing. Jumping on Miro's lap, in fact, sharing Duke Ellington's keyboard at six years old, playing with Prévert, sinking into the Colombe d'Or swimming pool and having Simone Signoret dive to his aid in an evening dress... An exceptional childhood punctuated tasty episodes, but also, unfortunately, after the death of Guiguite then Aimé, the legal adventures of an immense inheritance both dispersed and poisoned by joint ownership, make this testimony a captivating story which invites the reader in the intimacy of 20th century art.

By Fifi Abou Dib