The Maeght Foundation sits nestled within the craggy Cote D’Azur landscape with views of Saint Paul de Vence.
The foundation was created by Aime and Marguerite Maeght, a visionary couple of publishers and art dealers. The Brutalist complex, designed by the Catalan architect Josep Lluis Sert is set out much like an ancient village, wrapped inside a mosaic stone wall with a verdant garden.
Delicious pine scents lead you around the smooth edges of ‘Le Pepin Geant’, a bronze statue by Jean Arp and in the distance are the sharp edges of Calder’s stabile ‘Les Renforts’.
There is a gathering place for food with furniture designed by Alberto Giacometti. The Maeght foundation has the largest collection of Giacometti’s work in Europe and it was here in 1951 he had a solo exhibition after the war. Even the foundation door handles are his design. It’s very special to be able to interact with the work – this is very much a living breathing space rather than a stagnant, stuffy institution.
The village chapel is dedicated to St Bernard, inside it is a brilliant array of colour thanks to the two painted glass windows by Joan Miró and Georges Braque.
Opened in 1964, The Maeght Foundation was the first private foundation dedicated to the visual arts in Europe and was the epicentre of a thriving art scene. Painters and sculptors, including Miró, Calder, Leger, Braque, Giacometti and Chagall to name a few, worked in collaboration with the Catalan architect to create a space where art, nature and architecture have balance and synergy.
The piece de resistance is exploring Miró’s ‘Labyrinth’, a set of sculptures and ceramics that are site specific. Water cascades from the open jaws of characterful froggy faces installed at different heights on a stone wall as you first enter the maze.
“A garden placed between the mountains and the sea”, it is organised on three axises. The highest terrace is dominated by a massive concrete arch. An ancient masonry tower with a ceramic wall made by Miró defines the third space.
All of this seems to spin and revolve around a giant cosmic egg.
The foundation exhibits contemporary artists and has plans to build an underground expansion by Silvio d’Ascia Architecture that would add galleries for drawing and video art. Watch this space.