Press - Settling scores with the Maeghts

The hagiographic portrait of Aimé Maeght is the pretext for his granddaughter to draw up an indictment against her family.

settling of accounts among the maeght

Happy in business, unhappy in family, this aphorism could sum up the life and posterity of Aimé Maeght (1906-1981), the founder of the gallery and editions of the same name.

The portrait painted by his granddaughter Yoyo is particularly laudatory. In just a few years, “papy” raised the small gallery created during the war in Cannes to an international level, produced thousands of original lithographs and designed a unique place for exhibiting modern and contemporary art in Saint-Paul-de- Vence with the help of the architect Sert and the artists Giacometti, Miró, Calder. Yoyo, who would like to appear as the only intellectual heir of her grandfather, never ceases to magnify her generous, visionary, entrepreneurial, avant-garde personality, to praise her complicity with “mamy”. But if the author is not stingy with details on the family's sumptuous lifestyle, she is less so on the transactions, the collectors, the sellers who made it possible to amass such a fortune and build up the stock considerable works of art in the gallery.

Aimé's insolent business success contrasts with the family disagreement, not to say hatred, which transpires in every line, fueled by quarrels over inheritance. Adrien, Yoyo's father, hates his own father and does not hesitate to bargain for the four grandchildren's visits to their grandparents, while he and his wife have very little interest in them. For years, the couple made Yoyo believe that she was a foundling, unable to measure the trauma that this pseudo-joke could produce in their daughter. In return, she has very little consideration for her father, a dilettante maneuverer and pervert who prefers to stay with his mistress rather than go see his dying wife. She tries on several occasions to have soothing words for her family, recognizing herself that she lacks diplomacy, but this in no way alleviates the violence of the resentments she feels, especially towards her siblings. A good girl, her sister Isabelle, tells her on her wedding day that her future husband “only wants her money”. Not so wrong since she gets divorced some time later without even mentioning his name in the book. For good measure, their sick mother tells him several times that Isabelle does not love her sister.

Basically, the real subject of the book is the conflict between Yoyo and his sister, his brother and his father, which forced him to withdraw from the management of the publishing house and the Foundation in 2011, then to take them to court. We understand that this is a struggle for her and she is keen to explain it. According to the author, her sister does not want to communicate to her the details of their undivided heritage bequeathed by their grandparents and mother, she would sell works without paying her her share and would take advantage of their father's weakness to take control of the various companies. The family tragedy reaches a peak when the police arrive at her home, suspecting her of having stolen her sister's computer which contains the inventory of the joint ownership and has conveniently disappeared. An episode which is undoubtedly not the last in a very lackluster “saga”.

Jean-Christophe Castelain

Photo caption:

Yoyo Maeght, The Maeght saga, Robert Laffont, 330 pages, €21.50 signed by Yoyo Maeght.