Press - The Maeght vision

“Does the current art world still have a long life? Maybe not... "

The maeght vision

On the occasion of the celebration, this July 28, of the fifty years of the Maeght foundation, Yoyo, granddaughter of the founders Aimé and Marguerite, publishes a book both admiring for the founders and assassinating for certain heirs, including her father Adrien.
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In the form of a triptych, the publisher, gallery owner and exhibition curator, Yoyo Maeght recounts her privileged childhood, but without warmth, the artistic odyssey of her grandfather, the epic of the Maeght foundation in Saint-Paul-de -Vence, and finally the heartbreaks over his legacy which led him to resign from the board of directors of the Foundation and from his position as CEO of Maeght publisher. A real saga that the fascinating book that she has just published and which, far from the feeling of serenity that the Riviera museum provides, book, from the Maeght Foundation, provides a contrasting picture.

Was Aimé Maeght a frustrated artist?

Yoyo Maeght : Not at all. I spoke about it with him on numerous occasions; he never picked up brushes or pencil, even though he drew very well.
My grandfather was a trained lithographer engraver. In a letter to the artist Georges Rouault, he wrote that he stopped painting because he preferred to take care of artists and because he understood that he would not be the best.
Grandpa was capable of judging himself, of being self-critical in order to move forward. He left that aside and found another means of expression which was not a palliative, but suited him better and which he had not thought of at the beginning.
If Aime Maeght had imagined becoming a publisher, he never thought of becoming a merchant, opening a museum, or organizing concerts... as he later did at the foundation.

You mentioned his career as a merchant. What is striking is that he became one for the love of art...

Yes. Aime Maeght is not one of those dealers that I would describe as antique dealers, who buy works by often deceased artists to resell them. Having very quickly met artists like Bonnard, Prévert and Picabia, whom he met before the war in Cannes, my grandfather immediately understood that artists needed resources. In his eyes, the role of the merchant was to be able to provide artists with the necessary dimension they needed.

The word that characterizes the work of your grandparents is that of authenticity...

What they wanted was for the artist's gesture not to be atrophied. In a lithograph, the material is as the artist wanted it. For Maeght, it was a matter of not interpreting the artist's creation, of preserving it, avoiding filters.

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Was the Maeght foundation born from the premature death of Bernard, the younger brother of Adrien Maeght, your father?

Without Bernard's death, Aimé and Marguerite Maeght would have confined themselves to their magnificent careers (as gallery owner and publisher), and would not have called this destiny into question. With the foundation, they truly sought immortality, immortal work.

Is it a mausoleum?

No, it's more of a trigger, a tribute to life in which Bernard is not so present. It is a consolation, but without the negative side, which shows that life can exist in forms other than flesh and blood. This is noticeable, at the foundation, in the respect shown to the trees, to nature, to the importance of birds, and cicadas. It is the cicadas that visitors first remember after their visit to the foundation. Thanks to this, the lives of Aimé and Marguerite evacuate, without forgetting, the painful memory of a child who died at eleven years old and who would undoubtedly have become more interested in art and the foundation than is his older brother.

Exactly, can we say that Adrien murders the father as soon as his mother disappears?

No. First, Adrien did not wait for Marguerite to disappear to be in conflict with Aimé. Then, I would have preferred that he “ruin the father”, that he cut the cord and that he left the effortless and very comfortable life that his parents offered him.
Today, I am told, in turn, that with this book, I am murdering my father. It's true, but it's the price of my freedom that I decided to take back.
Deep down, Adrien loved his father very much, who adored him in return. Dad didn't understand the way my grandfather loved my grandmother. But it is true that Marguerite served as a regulator between her husband and her son.

The foundation wanted to be self-financed, a witness to living art, independent and a publisher. What remains of all this today?

Independent, I hope and believe she still is. As part of the celebration of the fifty years of the foundation, many works were loaned externally.

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My astonishment comes from the fact that this collaboration is carried out with official state museums. Those who currently manage the Maeght Foundation, namely my sister Isabelle, my brother Jules and my father, do not have my standards.
But, for three years, this family conflict (Editor's note: Yoyo resigned from all his mandates in the Maeght constellation) has allowed me to devote myself to the figure of my grandfather, to carry out research on him and to reflect on what he was.
But I'm not worried about the foundation as such. First, it would be very difficult to modify it and make it lose its soul. There are expansion projects, which are necessary, but which I am not sure are in the spirit of the foundation.
Financially independent is more complicated. The only thing that my grandparents did not foresee was that the works would reach such a value and that, as a result, insurance would become the foundation's biggest budget. Let's take Giacometti's "Walking Man", a similar bronze of lesser value, because it was not painted, was sold for $115 million in 2010. However, the foundation owns two: just insuring these two works represents a substantial budget. This aspect alone represents the operating budget of a museum. If the foundation were a state museum, it would not have to insure the works. A colossal difference.
My project was to find new means of financing, in particular through corporate sponsorship, without interfering in the foundation, without affixing logos to it, but with support such that it guarantees its independence through its financing.

What remains of the publisher Maeght?

It's been three years since I left the Maeght constellation. Let's say that there is not the edition that we could have hoped for. It's not just about doing what we've already done. If Aimé had lived through these new years where galleries were everywhere in New York, Los Angeles, China or Brazil he would, in my opinion, have abandoned the exclusive artist side, which was too limited. My grandfather would have opened many galleries. On the other hand, Aimé Maeght would have understood that collaboration with the artists, even if they are in other galleries, would have been necessary. But we should have offered them more than other galleries, particularly in terms of publishing, and something other than lithos, which is a pattern created in the 20th century. We should have projected ourselves into the next century. Turn to photography or three-dimensional printing. Sell, for example, sculptures, on the one hand, and, on the other, an application that allows them to be printed in three dimensions. Not remaining in what has been done, but, with the innovative visionary spirit of Aimé Maeght, without nostalgia, wondering how he would have acted, today, with the spirit that was his. Thinking about whether the art world, in its current form, still has a long life ahead of it Maybe not…

The name is transmitted, but not necessarily the spirit...

We can't really blame my father Adrien for not having had the same approach as Aimé. To have the spirit, you need three things: first, proximity and daily life with the person who had that spirit, a curiosity. Not just being admiring.
Personally, I owned it with him or with artists I knew like Miro, Prévert, or Alechinsky, the one who speaks to me best about my grandfather.
Then you have to work a lot.
Finally, it takes a lot of analysis and not being stuck in the past. It is important to eat contemporary art every day to understand what the spirit of Aimé Maeght is.
The de Solages and their private house, in Brussels, have this form of spirit that my grandfather possessed and they are involved in contemporary art. I find it deplorable that no one in my family knows them.

Seeing the family conflict and the mess caused by it at the foundation level, we say to ourselves that beauty is always ephemeral, right?

Yes and so much the better. We had a few years of conflicts, Aime also experienced some or, in any case, difficulties, notably the failure of the foundation he wanted to create in the Marais district of Paris. Something beneficial and positive should be gained from it.
It's a waste for the family, but not for the art world. It's always sad when brother and sister no longer speak to each other, but it's not irremediable. Furthermore, the heartbreak that there was with my father Adrien, my sister Isabelle and my brother Jules brought me closer to my other sister Florence.

Did you fear an appeal following the release of the book, published on July 3?

Yes. But legally there are no laws or specific points that would justify the banning of this book. I don't talk about things in private life, but about things that are more or less public; moreover, this is my point of view. I assume a subjective view of events.


“The Maeght saga” Yoyo Maeght (with the collaboration of Pauline Guena)
Editions Robert Laffont 336 p. 21.50 euros