Fondation Maeght: Modern Art Museum

Ensconced in pine forest on the Colline des Gardettes hill above St Paul de Vence, the Fondation Maeght is a modern art museum of a caliber that you won’t come across very often, which is why the museum attracts over 200,000 visitors each year.

Fondation Maeght (fon-da-shon magh)

The art dealer couple, Aimé Maeght and his wife Marguerite were 20th century art collectors and art collectors who planned the attraction as a memorial to their son who died at just 11. Its inauguration was in 1964 and designed by Spanish American architect José Luis Sert. It has since become a mecca for modern art enthusiasts.

The reason it’s so special is because masters of modern art came to help with the design and decoration: Marc Chagall created mosaics, Giacometti devised a courtyard and Joan Miró conceived a labyrinth with 250 sculptures. Many signature artworks from modern masters belong to the collection of this art museum.

The museum is outside the walls of St-Paul de Vence. You’ll need to take a 10 to 20 minute walk from the town on the wooded hills among the dark pines to reach it. From the bus stop you can see the signs that point to the way. Coming from the lower lot, a shortcut on a steep dirt path through the trees leads directly to the green gate in front of the ticket booth.

FEATURES AND ARTWORK at fondation maeght

Temporary exhibits are on during the summers. Indoor galleries show the collection in rotation. The only fixed installations are the sculptures standing on the ground.

  • Chapelle St-Bernard: Dedicated to the Maeghts’ young son who died of leukemia in the age of 11. George Braque designed it, and above the 12th-century Christ altarpiece, is a stained glass window of his creation. It is on the right coming from the entrance.
  • Les Poissons (1963): A mosaic pool by Braque.
  • La Vie (1964): A painting by Marc Chagall depicting human life on a tableau with swirling figures of dancers, musicians, acrobats, and clowns, made somewhat serious in tone by the theme of love, parenthood, religion, society, nature, etc.
  • L’ete (1909): An artwork with inspiration from the Mediterranean. Oil on canvas painting by Pierre Bonnard. He was a close friend to Aimé.
  • Olseau dans le Feuillage (1961): An artwork made of newsprint depicting a bird nestling in foliage by Georges Braque’s. He is influential to the building of the Fondation but did not live up to see its opening to the public.
  • Les Renforts (1963): a “stabile” by Alexander Calder. It is a counterpart to his more common “mobile”.
  • Cour Galcometti (1960): Slender human-like figures in the shady courtyard by Alberto Giacometti.
  • Labyrinthe da Miró with the prominent Loiseau Lunaire (1968): a multi-leveled maze of trees, water fixtures, and gargoyles by Joan Miró.

a video tour of fondation maeght

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