the maeght spirit

During a conference, Yoyo Maeght drew a sensitive portrait of his grandparents, Marguerite and Aimé Maeght, creators of the Foundation in Vence, which bears their name.

Text: Isabelle Debuchy
PHOTOS: Jean-Pierre Leloir;
Sophie Boulet; Edward Quinn.

the maeght spirit

A book, 50 years of a foundation | She is there, alongside Miró. In his childhood, Yoyo Maeght rubbed shoulders with a breeding ground of geniuses and it was his life . “I grow up among rare men and I learn to see the world as Miró shows it to me, as Prévert sings it to me, as Calder, Malraux, Chagall, Papy, suggest it to me in its beauty, its excesses, its secrets, its dramas too. I have an attentive eye on life and nature. These great men of the 20th century shape my outlook.” Throughout his work, the author gives a captivating account of his grandfather Aimé's encounters with the painters who left their mark on the history of contemporary art: Bonnard, Matisse, Miró, Braque … She tells, this atmosphere of friendship, joy and freedom, and her words awaken sensations in us. The heat of summer alleys, memories of faces, Ella Fitzgerald, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret… the sound of crickets and their rhythmic counterpoint in the “blues for Joan Miró” performed by Duke Ellington, John, Lamb and Sam Woodyard, in 1966, two years after the opening of the Maeght Foundation. This blues which evaporates in the welcoming volumes and the gardens planted on the hill of Vence. Marguerite and Aimé Maeght opened their doors to the greatest artists of their time. Painters and sculptors worked closely together to create this foundation, of which the Catalan architect, Josep Lluís Sert, was the project manager. In the building, the gardens and the courtyard rub shoulders with monumental works. Those of Giacometti, with one of the most famous works in situ in the world, the Miró labyrinth populated with sculptures and ceramics, the wall mosaics of Chagall, the swimming pool and the stained glass window of Braque, the Bury fountain… A museum in the open air, the creation of which we follow page after page. From the war of 1914, to the project, then to the opening of the Foundation in 1964, the memory book is a collage of memories, perceptions of Yoyo Maeght which spans time and describes the springs of a “success story”.

The Maeght myth | How, in fact, did Aimé, originally an artisan lithographer, born in Hazebrouck in 1906, orphaned by his father during the First World War, undertake this work well before the Center Pompidou opened its doors? ? In 1945, “Aimé is alone, he has everything to build, he can only count on his instinct, what we called his eye, his strength of conviction, his enthusiasm for work… and the sagacity of his wife. »

Yes, above all, this decisive marriage in 1928 with Marguerite Devaye, generous and determined, an undeniable complement to Aimé. In 1932, Aimé and Marguerite opened the Arte printing house (Graphic Arts and Techniques) in Cannes and had the decisive meeting with Pierre Bonnard, then Henri Matisse. After the war, the Galerie Maeght opened its doors on December 6, 1945 with an exhibition by Henri Matisse.

This Parisian gallery is already a gathering place for renowned painters. “At the end of 1946, the exhibition “black is a color” brought together works by Bonnard, Matisse, Bra que, Rouault, Marchand, Manessier, Thompson, Geer Van de Velde, Chastel, Villeri, Atlan, Rigaud, Dany and Pallut. Aimé relies on the great masters of modern art to defend young contemporary artists…” Aimé Maeght visionary, publisher, gallery owner and art dealer. What is missing from his talent? Yoyo Maeght continues: “Dreams, thanks in particular to my grandmother's practical sense, come true and like children, they are supported for as long as it takes before they are able to walk on their own. This constancy in effort, this stubborn coherence makes a trajectory a true current, a system, a spirit. Neither stubborn nor narrow-minded, but determined. This is the lesson I would like to learn from my grandfather's life. » This boundless admiration devoted to his grandparents also expresses the feeling of abandonment of parents far too busy with their worldly lives to worry about their offspring, the ferment of a resentment which will create an irremediable and still current family rupture. Taking us into a fresco, when history mixes with the history of art, Yoyo Maeght expresses what made the richness of his own journey, his roots, scraps of life and the path towards the serenity of a rediscovered identity.

The Maeght Saga by Yoyo Maeght - Editions Robert Laffont, 336 pages - 60 photo documents, €21.50. autographed by Yoyo Maeght.