SAINT-PAUL-DE-VENCE, FRANCE – This year is the 50th anniversary of the Fondation Maeght, with major exhibitions taking place to explore the history and legacy of this remarkable institution. Director Olivier Kaeppelin discusses the celebrations.

maeght-portraitAimé Maeght at the Fondation Maeght. Photograph by
Claude Gaspari.

What makes the Fondation Maeght so important?
Firstly, it is special for artistic reasons. The Fondation has an amazing story that represents the true life of modern art. It is the result of a common vision of collectors, artists, architecture and writers. The foundation was created not only for visual art, but also as a dialogue between architecture, dance, music and philosophy.

Aimé Maeght, who began the Fondation, was an extraordinary man, perhaps one of the greatest gallerists of the 20th century. As the Director of the Fondation Maeght, have you gained some insight into him?
He was a great art dealer and entrepreneur. He was a visionary, a risk taker and saw art as a creative adventure. He knew if creativity flowed, everything would follow. He believed that bringing people together and generating a dialogue would make something greater than the individual. In many ways the Fondation is the embodiment of this.

How did the Fondation come about?
The project was inspired by Georges Braque in order to help Aimé Maeght when he had just lost his son Bernard and life had lost meaning for him. He wanted to create something that was greater than his commercial engagement with the art world. When he put the idea to his artists, they responded with enthusiasm and found it a hugely positive experience. These artists included Chagall, Leger, Giacometti, Miró, Braque, Calder and Pierre Tal-Coat. They worked with the architect Jean Luis Sert to create this unique building and setting.

Where did the works in the collection come from?
The collection consists of gifts from artists, gifts from Aimé and Marguerite Maeght, other members of the Maeght family and gifts from the Friends of the Foundation. We have about 900 major pieces here, while the library and the works on paper add considerably to that number. As you may know, Maeght was primarily a printer.

maeght-exterior-shotFondation Maeght. Photography by JJ L'Héritier. © Archives Fondation Maeght.

Exhibitions celebrating the Fondation Maeght are already underway with the second In Front of the Work opening on 28 June. What is this show about?
This exhibition is about the choices Aimé Maeght made. It is not about theory. It’s about looking through his eyes, and not just about the really well-known pieces. We are including the major works: Braque’s Les oiseaux noirs, Bonnard’s L’été and Kandinsky’s Les noeuds rouges

We have included artists who are known a little such as François Fiedler, Gérard Gasiorowski and Richard Lindner and, continuing the spirit of the Foundation, contemporary artists we have recently shown Richard Deacon, Yan Pei Ming, Paolo Calzolari, Djamel Tatah, Frank Hyder and Gloria Friedmann.

George Braque, Les oiseaux noirs.
Pierre Bonnard, L'été, 1917. Collection Fondation Maeght.
Wassily Kandinsky. Les noeud rouges. C. Germain.
François Fiedler, À trois termes I, II, III. C. Germain.

Lead image: Gérard Gasiorowski, Hommage à Manet.