The Maeght Foundation is having trouble making its €3m yearly operating budget which mostly comes from admissions. It also wants and needs to expand to take its 200,000 visitors up to 300,000 or more. So the foundation is raising €5.5m for a new wing by offering to name spaces after donors. Some wonder whether selling some of the 12,000-strong holdings.
Aimé Maeght was originally a lithographer who sold radio sets and furniture in a Cannes boutique with a print shop in the back. When Bonnard, by then an elderly man, came in one day to get a print made, Maeght offered to sell the original engraving, and found a new vocation. In 1945 he opened a Paris gallery and quickly became one of the most important art dealers in post-war France, representing Braque, Chagall, Miró, Giacometti and Calder. After the Maeght Foundation opened, he hosted many exhibitions by these and other artists, a programme that continues to this day. This year’s anniversary show mixes major pieces of modern art with paintings by lesser-known contemporary artists.
Until he died in 1981, Maeght senior bankrolled the foundation. He left it four-fifths of his considerable personal collection, and also bequeathed assets to be sold for the institution’s benefit. Adrien, now 84, has made further gifts in kind: the land and buildings that the foundation occupies, and works of art. But the Maeght has to find cash to cover its operating costs, and it relies on ticket sales for 80% of its budget, compared with half that at the Fondation Cartier in Paris. The rest comes from producing exhibitions for other galleries, and from sponsorship and donations.
All this worries Olivier Kaeppelin, who took over as the Maeght’s director in 2011 (having previously sat on the board as the French Culture Ministry’s director of visual arts) [… who] wants the foundation to be free to sell works. The collection is valuable. It includes Giacometti’s “Walking Man I” (1961); another version auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2010 fetched £65m (then $104.3m). At the moment nothing from the collection can be sold, but there are numerous lithographs and sculptures that exist in similar or identical multiples which could be disposed of without affecting it, he says.
The future of the Maeght Foundation: Sunshine and colour (The Economist)