Artists’ collaboration creates a world-leading cultural foundation
”Do something here, something that has no speculative purpose, something that allows us, as artists, to exhibit sculpture and painting in the best possible light and spatial conditions. Do it, I’ll help you.” Georges Braque
Some of the biggest names in 20th-century European sculpture, including Georges Braque, Joan Miró and Alberto Giacometti, came together to help create La Fondation Maeght, which has become France’s most important art foundation and is among the world’s leading cultural institutions. La Fondation was established by Aimé and Marguerite Maeght, a visionary couple who were publishers and art dealers, and who represented and were friends with some of the most important artists of the era, including Braque, Miró and Giacometti, as well as Alexander Calder, Fernand Léger, Marc Chagall, and many others.
La Fondation Maeght was opened on July 26, 1964, by Charles de Gaulle’s legendary Culture Minister André Malraux, a close friend of the Maeghts. It was France’s very first private art institution and was modelled on American institutions such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the Barnes Collection and the Phillips Collection, which the couple visited during their frequent trips to the US in the 1950s.
Mr Adrien Maeght, son of Marguerite and Aimé Maeght, is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, which is composed of 11 members, including three representatives of the Ministry of Culture and the Interior Ministry, four members of the Maeght family and four qualified personalities. Nicolas Gitton has been director of the Fondation since 2018.
After the couple’s youngest son, Bernard, passed away from leukemia in 1953, fauvist and cubist artist Georges Braque prompted Aimé and Marguerite to imagine a new place for art in their property in the village of Saint-Paul de Vence on the French Riviera. Painters and sculptors worked in collaboration with the Catalan architect, Josep Lluís Sert, to create a place where art, nature and architecture blended in perfect harmony. Highlights include the Giacometti Courtyard, featuring an exceptional ensemble of sculptures by the Swiss artist, the Miró Labyrinth, a whimsical sculpture garden, monumental mural mosaics by Marc Chagall and Pierre Tal Coat, a pool designed by Braque as well as a mechanical fountain designed by Pol Bury.
Visitors can also enjoy the sculpture garden, which houses a rotating selection of works by Calder, Takis, Miró, Jean Arp and others, two rooftop terraces with spectacular views, galleries hosting temporary exhibitions and selected works from the permanent collection, a consecrated chapel, an art library and a gift and book shop.
Located 25 km from Nice, La Fondation Maeght welcomes many visitors every year to this unique architectural complex, showing modern and contemporary art in all its diversity.
Art, nature and architecture fuse in Sert’s building for the Fondation Maeght
Architect Josep Lluís Sert designed a vast and impressive studio for his friend and fellow Catalan, the surrealist artist Joan Miró, in Palma de Mallorca in the 1950s. It was this sculpture-like architecture that led Aimé Maeght, Miró’s gallerist and editor since 1947, to entrust his major project to Sert: the creation of the first private foundation dedicated to the visual arts in Europe.
La Fondation Maeght is not a museum. It was born from the desire for a place in which Aimé and Marguerite Maeght could present modern and contemporary art in all its forms; and where their artist friends could visit to create and exchange ideas as much as to exhibit work. Sert created La Fondation hand in hand with the Maeghts, Miró and a number of artists, who gave life to some of its main features: the sculpture garden entrance; the Giacometti Court; buildings wrapped around patios; a bell tower for the chapel and a home studio.
It was as a humanist that Sert developed his “village architecture” concept, as dedicated to the artists involved as it is open and welcoming for art lovers; but it was as a modernist that Sert reinterpreted the codes of a Mediterranean village – the whiteness, the earth, the patios.
He made use of indirect, natural lighting for viewing artworks, and a spatial layout conducive to contemplation. With only 850 sq m of enclosed space, La Fondation comprises a unique and flexible arrangement of volumes and spaces, interiors and exteriors.
Sert literally integrated nature into the construction of La Fondation, allowing visitors to discover, in a single movement, the masterpieces presented within and the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Josep Lluís Sert studied at the School of Architecture in Barcelona. His influences ranged from Antoni Gaudí to the Bauhaus, and included Catalan traditions celebrating light and vitality. He met and assisted Le Corbusier in the 1920s, then succeeded Walter Gropius as Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in 1953.
The Fondation Maeght – an exceptional place for modern art
The Fondation Maeght is home to one of the largest collections of modern art in Europe, featuring paintings, sculptures, drawings and graphic works by renowned 20th-century figures including Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Diego Giacometti, Wassily Kandinsky, Barbara Hepworth, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró, Pierre Tal Coat, Germaine Richier, and Raul Ubac. The collection also contains work by post-war and contemporary artists including Anna-Eva Bergman, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Eduardo Chillida, Christo, Marco Del Re, Gérard Garouste, Jörg Immendorff, Ellsworth Kelly, Wifredo Lam, Joan Mitchell, Takis and Antoni Tàpies.
On its opening in 1964, La Fondation Maeght prefigured the modern concept of a cultural centre by organising exhibitions, dance events, concerts and works of theatre. This continued range of programming runs alongside an annual roster of temporary exhibitions, providing a panorama of modern and contemporary art.
The initial bequest of Marguerite and Aimé Maeght consists of 1,000 artworks alongside the works created in situ. In line with his parents’ ethos, Adrien Maeght, the current president of La Fondation, has contributed to the enrichment of the estate by donating buildings and land, and through donations of works of art, notably with his half-sister Sylvie Eon Baltazart. Through regular bequests, Adrien Maeght and his children continue to perpetuate the family spirit.
Today a selection from the permanent collection is exhibited in the rooms and garden of La Fondation to complement the programme of exhibitions. With a rich collection of 13,000 items, La Fondation Maeght also regularly loans works in the collection to several museums in France and around the world.
Aimé Maeght gathered a rich collection of books and reviews throughout his life. As a former lithographer, he also produced remarkable books in collaboration with artists Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder and Jacques Prévert, to name a few. All of these are stored in the library at La Fondation Maeght. Open to researchers and members of la Société des Amis, the library is a testiment to the collective of artists who helped create it.
The library was founded in 1972 as a reference centre for students, researchers, art historians and curators containing books and journals specialising in modern and contemporary art. With more than 35,000 items, it includes not only Marguerite and Aimé’s personal collection, but also poet Pierre Reverdy’s original literary works, several acquisitions by la Société des Amis, and many exchanges with galleries and museums from all around the world.
In addition, the photo library features a photographic record of La Fondation Maeght’s collections, and of the exhibitions and events that have taken place at La Fondation from 1964 to the present day. Viewing of archival photographs can be arranged in advance and by appointment only.
Opening hours :
10am – 1pm/2pm – 6pm (Monday-Friday)