yoyo maeght a childhood at the heart of modern art

Even though the whole world flocks to the Maeght Foundation in Saint Paul de Vence, we always feel, as if by magic, alone in the world. This island of greenery sheltered by a pine forest was created in 1964 by Aimé Maeght as a sanctuary for the works of his friends Braque, Miro, Giacometti, Léger, Chagall, Calder, Tàpies, Chillida and many others. others.

It also houses the childhood memories of Yoyo, Aimé's granddaughter who has just published, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Foundation, "La saga Maeght" (published by Robert Laffont) where she reveals the exceptional personality of his "grandpa" and some heavy family secrets. She also answers questions from “L’Officiel Levant”.


In the story of Aimé Maeght, the war certainly played a big role in creating detours and crossroads, and in provoking encounters. Isn't that how a life turns into destiny? Born in 1906, in Hazebrouk, near Lille, during the First World War he was repatriated as a child, with his family, to the south of France to escape the Germans, his father, a railway engineer, having been reported missing. Very quickly, he revealed an exceptional personality through brilliant education and a strong taste for the arts and jazz. His status as a ward of the nation gave him access to a job as a printer in Cannes where he met Marguerite who would become his wife and enthusiastic accomplice. In 1932, he opened his own printing works, still in Cannes, and named it “ARTE”. The painter Pierre Bonnard commissions a job from him, becomes his friend, introduces him to Matisse, and everything comes together. The Maeght couple is close to Jean Moulin. When the latter was arrested, Aimé and Marguerite took refuge in Vence, near Henri Matisse, hence, later, the choice to set up their Foundation there. The day after the Liberation, Aimé opened the Galerie Maeght in Paris which became the meeting place for artists, poets and writers because he could not conceive of art without the written word. He published quality works and created artistic magazines: Derrière le Miroir (DLM), L'Éphémère, Argile and later L'Art Vivant. He surrounded himself with the greatest talents of his time. Family friends include Henri Matisse, Braque, Léger, Miró, Chagall, Alexander Calder, Kandinsky and Alberto Giacometti; Gaëtan Picon, André du Bouchet, Yves Bonnefoy and Louis-René Des Forêts, or even Yves Montand, Ella Fitzgerald, Annouck Aimée, Serge Regiani or Serge Lifar. The Maeghts had three children, Adrien, Bernard and Sylvie, born of a free union with Marcelle Baltazart. It was after Bernard's early death that the couple decided to create the Foundation as a center of life and exchange between artists and visitors, in the spirit of a village. The plans were entrusted to Joesp Lluis Sert.


Aimé Maeght is an ideal grandfather for his son Adrien's children: Isabelle, Florence, Françoise and Jules. Françoise, known as "Yoyo", born in 1959, was only 5 years old that evening of July 24, 1964 when she was entrusted, with her sister, with the mission of handing over the keys to the Foundation to André Malraux, then Secretary of State. to Culture. Today she is a publisher, gallery owner, organizer and curator of exhibitions and a consular judge at the Paris Commercial Court. She also teaches at the Institute of Higher Studies of the Arts and at Drouot Formation. Although she has already authored several works linked to the Maeght Foundation, this is the first time that she has put pen to paper in the first person singular to recount her exceptional childhood and the special relationship she had with Loved, this “grandpa” decidedly not like the others, surrounded by extraordinary friends. In "The Maeght Saga", she tells above all "the epic of a dynasty loving the arts over three generations, the sad adventure of a clan torn apart at the death of the patriarch and a journey into the intimacy of the greatest artists of our contemporary history. She recalls her grandparents' fabulous apartment, avenue Foch, where she played at stacking Charlotte Perriand chairs and crossed Paris aboard the Rolls driven by the chauffeur Octave to go and play at Braque's to whom, one day, she brought a box of colored pencils to… “make Miros”! How can we believe Yoyo when she calls herself "self-taught", if we take into account the extraordinary teaching that "grandpa's friends" offered her without her even having to make the effort to learn?



On March 15, 2011, a few months after the Giacometti & Maeght exhibition, one of the Foundation's biggest artistic events, Nice Matin headlined: "The Maeght Foundation agitated by a family dispute". The truth is beyond this euphemism. The rag has been burning for several months already between the descendants of Aimé and Marguerite. Yoyo, CEO of the family publishing house, has just made public his resignation from the board of directors of the Foundation. Two clans are formed: Isabelle, the eldest, stands up with her father Adrien. Yoyo is supported by Florence. The protagonists remain discreet about the reasons for the conflict. At the time, Isabelle declared, about Yoyo, that "his reasons are personal to him and relate to a strictly private problem as exists in all families". Adrien, for his part, added: “Yoyo wants to get out of joint ownership, it’s his right (…) it’s a story of big money and pride”. Today, Yoyo denounces in his book the "manipulative" nature of his father and sister, "the concealment of inventories and sales, the disappearance of a computer containing this information" and other indelicacies.



Determined, cheerful in character with a very "executive" profile, Yoyo Maeght, in the middle of signing her book, agreed to answer our questions.

You, in a few words ? I don't know how to talk about myself. I'm probably very difficult to put up with, because when I have an idea, nothing can stop me.

What is the root of the problem that opposes you to the Maeght Foundation? Nothing opposes me to the Foundation. It is rather my sister Isabelle who opposes her sisters. We don't know why.

Which artists impressed you the most as a child and why? Miró, because he explained things to me and checked that I had understood them correctly. Enthusiastic, considerate, calm. And so dazzling as soon as he got to work! After being a kid on his knees, I became an adult who puts on exhibitions around his work. One day, I had to present some of his ceramics and suggested that he install a mirror allowing him to see all sides of a piece. “Ah no,” he replied, “and the mystery? You should never reveal everything. The moon fascinates us, because we always only see a tiny part of it.”

What are you doing today? I am a magistrate and I am preparing a project on architecture.

In what context does your new book take place? In 2006, I published “Maeght, the passion for living art” with La Martinière publisher, for the centenary of Aimé's birth. The same year, I directed “Maeght une histoire de Famille (film for a Théma evening on ARTE). In 2010, I published “La Fondation Maeght l’art et la vie” by Gallimard. In 2014, I delivered “La Saga Maeght” for the 50th anniversary of the Maeght Foundation. This is the first time that I have placed myself as a witness and said “I” or “my grandfather”.

Your favorite authors? Prévert, Duras, Hugo, Dickens.

The art form to which you are most sensitive? Any form of creation.

A day of Yoyo Maeght? Fast-paced and multifunctional. Whatever happens: A trip to Saint Germain des Pres, Flore and the Ecume des Pages bookstore. A trip to the Paris Commercial Court (I have an office overlooking the flower market, it’s divine). Dinner with friends or my kids at amazing restaurants.

Your definition of contemporary art? Whoa! PHO Too vast…