A major work as Mediterranean as it is avant-garde
In the 1950s, Josep Lluís Sert created the vast studio of his friend Joan Miró, also Catalan, in Palma de Mallorca. Aimé Maeght, Miró’s gallerist and editor since 1947, decided to entrust his major project to him: the creation of the first private foundation, recognized for its public utility, dedicated to the visual arts in Europe.
Born in Barcelona in 1902, Josep Lluís Sert studied at the Barcelona School of Architecture and was passionate about bringing the city into modernity. His influences combine Gaudí and the Bauhaus, rationalism and the Catalan tradition bathed in light and vitality.
Josep Lluís Sert was active from the late 1920s in groups of avant-garde artists and Catalan and Spanish architects (the GATCPAC, the ADLAN) and was supported by Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí. He was therefore very young when he met architects and artists like Picabia, Arp and various Dada actors... The discovery of Le Corbusier is crucial. He would join him in 1928 in Paris to work at his side. Much later, Sert would assist in the creation of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University (1962), the only building made in the USA by Le Corbusier and Guillermo Jullian de la Fuente.The intensity of artistic exchanges in the 1930s and the political upheaval and war in Spain took Sert from Barcelona to Paris and then to Harvard. Europe, USA, South America, Baghdad ... Recognized worldwide as one of the greatest architects of his time, he received the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in 1981. He died in 1983 in Barcelona.
The Maeght Foundation: a "site" for art as innovative as it is timeless
The Maeght Foundation is not a museum. It was born from the desire for a place where Aimé and Marguerite Maeght could present modern and contemporary art in all its forms while their artist friends could come there to work and exchange as much as to exhibit. A sculpture garden as an entrance, an agora to gather together (the Giacometti Court), buildings wrapped around patios, a bell tower for the chapel, a “Town Hall room," a home-studio ... It is as a humanist that Sert designed, in a constant and close dialogue with Aimé Maeght, a village architecture as dedicated to the artists as it is open and welcoming for art lovers.
It is as a modernist that Sert reinterpreted the codes of a Mediterranean village; the whiteness, the earth, the patios ... Without brutalism, his lexicon integrates geometry, functional rationality and clean forms. The primary colors are present and give life to it all.The visual arts also contribute to Sert’s architectural thinking. He incorporated elements inspired by artwork in his construction. He created the Foundation in this way, hand in hand with Aimé Maeght but also with Miró and the artists present.
He designed an indirect, natural lighting to view the works and a spacial layout conducive to contemplation. With only 850 m2 of enclosed space, it offers a unique and flexible range of volumes and spaces, interiors and exteriors.
A masterpiece of modern architecture with its rhythms and its environmental intelligence
The spaces designed by Sert and Aimé Maeght offer endless possibilities for circulation and respiration. Nothing is identically repeated even though, as a whole, it seems highly uniform. Everything lies in the attention to details and variations. These openings of various sizes, these steps going down and up, these intertwined rooms and passages from inside to outside that make us lose track of time. And we mustn’t forget the sun which crosses the Foundation throughout the day from east to west, offering all the nuances of light.
Moreover, Sert literally integrated the place and nature, including their myths, in its construction. By doing so, he has created a place that is both unique and timeless with his archetypal forms and particularly his catchment roofs that sometimes evoke a solar disk and sometimes the horns of a bull. It allows the visitor to discover, in a single movement, the masterpieces presented and the beauty of the surrounding nature, the forest, the mountains, the sea.