Galerie Maeght was founded by Aimé and Marguerite Maeght in Paris in 1945. It became one of the most important art gallery complexes of the second half of the 20th century, eventually including the art gallery and a publishing house in Paris, galleries in Zurich, Barcelona, New York and Tokyo, and the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.
Aimé Maeght (Hazebrouck, 1906 - Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 1981) was an art dealer, collector and publisher. He studied art and music and trained as a lithographer at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nîmes. In 1928 he married Marguerite Devaye, who became his close allied in life and business for the rest of his life. After living in La Rivière for some years -the area was a refuge for artists and writers such as Bonnard, Matisse or Picasso, who were escaping from occupied areas- the Maeghts left Cannes thanks to Bonnard support, and opened their own space in Paris.
The gallery embodied an adventurous new spirit in post war Paris, and opened in 1945 with a show of Henri Matisse’s drawings. It soon became an artists and poets meeting place in the city. In 1947 the gallery organised, in collaboration with André Breton and Marcel Duchamp, the notorious exhibition Surréalisme. During the following years the gallery hosted significant exhibitions of the work of many artists, focusing particularly on Bonnard, Braque, Calder, Giacometti and Miró. Shortly, other artists such as Chagall, Derain, Kandinsky, Kelly, Léger or Steinberg joined the gallery. Maeght was also the first gallery in Paris to show works by two Spanish young artists Eduardo Chillida and Pablo Palazuelo. After opening galleries in New York, Zurich and Barcelona, (which opened in December 1973 with the main impulse of Joan Miró, as he wanted a space in Barcelona where to show his work) Aimé Maeght became one of the world's leading figures in the international art market.
In the early 1960’s, inspired by the Barnes, Phillips and Guggenheim Foundations in the United States, the project for a Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence started to take shape. To carry out their vision, Aimé and Marguerite Maeght visited the Spanish architect Josep Lluís Sert, who was living in Boston. Sert, who had just finished the studio of Joan Miró in Palma de Mallorca, agreed with enthusiasm to the couple’s proposal; the building of a meeting place for the arts in the south of France.
The Maeght Foundation was designed in collaboration with some of the most radical artists of the time strongly connected with Maeght Gallery: Miró worked with ceramists Josep and Joan Artigas to design the labyrinth that bears his name, George Braque designed the tiles for the fish pool, Alberto Giacometti arranged Miró’s and his own sculptures in the Giacometti Courtyard, and his brother Diego designed all the furniture for the Foundation's café. Outside the café there is a monumental sculpture by Calder. The Maeght Foundation opened in 1964. It was inaugurated by André Malraux, Minister of Culture, who was a close friend of the Maeghts.
In 2008 the Royal Academy of Arts of London celebrated an exhibition dedicated to Aimé Maeght, focusing on the four central artists of Maeght’s Collection - Braque, Calder, Giacometti, and Miró -. The exhibition also examined the remarkable contribution that the Maeghts made to art in the mid-twentieth century as a collectors, dealers, exhibition-makers, and publishers.