The black legend of the Borja can continue: an exhibition about the Valencian family turned into the Roman saga of Popes may have been the last of the Maillol museum in Paris, which closed the exhibition, and its doors, for an indeterminate time, this 15th February. Ten days before, the company Tecniarte, of Patrizia Nitti, artistic director of the museum since 2009, declared bankruptcy. It was also canceled, as a result, the exhibition The kiss, from the Renaissance to today, scheduled from March 25 to July 26 next.
A private museum in Paris is in itself a task of titans, not because of lack of public – the million people of floating population of the first tourist city in the world gives for everything – but because of the competition of national and municipal museums, which even when subsidies decrease, they can ignore the typical trade contingencies.
A private museum, on the other hand, depends on its ticket office
Maillol’s was weakening. And the beginning of the year, with the double bloody attack, Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, would have been the final blow.
But nothing is very clear. The president of the Foundation, Olivier Lorquin, son of Dina Vierny, the model turned collector and gallerist, singer, then patron, later creator of the foundation and the museum dedicated to the Catalan sculptor who chose her as muse, would have decided to close by indeterminate time, before the obligation to update the electricity, insulation and access of the museum.
Tecniarte, which has it as its sole client, and which accused losses since 2012, denounced through the press a decision that amounted to its death sentence.
Then, he backed off. “There is no correlation between the bankruptcy of the company Tecniarte, due to the general decrease in the frequency of museums and the closure, by works, of the Maillol museum. The Dina Vierny-Musée Maillol Foundation is not responsible for the bankruptcy of Tecniarte, “the statement said.
At the same time, the museum managers imitated the conciliatory tone. “As always when a sample ends, we must wait for the works to be returned to those who lent them to begin an evaluation of the reforms to be carried out. At that time, “they explained to La Vanguardia,” we will know if it is a matter of heavy work, which would require a closure of up to two years, or if progressive works could be conceived to keep the activity going. “
All very polite but the curious thing is that apparently as necessary as urgent works have not been planned in the programming to the point of having announced the exhibition of The Kiss.
Nor can they explain who will program in the future, since with the closure of Tecniarte there is no more artistic direction. And a calendar of exhibitions, however modest, requires time. Usually a minimum of two years is calculated, and it is a rather optimistic term, to develop the concept of a sample, ask for and obtain loans.
The press officer of the museum says that in any case they can not plan anything without knowing if the museum will be closed or open. Logical, but as strange as the closing, brutal and for many definitive.
In addition to temporary exhibitions, such as this one by L os Borja and his time, from Leonardo da Vinci to Michelangelo (with the mole on the other hand of a small terracotta Pietà “attributed” -according to Nitti- to the master of the Sistine Chapel) , the Maillol keeps the Vierny collection, permanent, of Maillol sculptures. And on the first floor there are other tests of the eye of the former model, drawings by Matisse for whom he also posed and an important meeting of naïve painters.
Vierny, who even recently inspired the film The Artist and the Model
by Fernando Trueba, was convinced precisely by Matisse, after the death in Maillol’s accident, to open a gallery in Paris. Since 1947, always at 38 rue Jacob, the gallery in his name was a focus of modernity, revealing artists. At the same time, collector Maillol, in principle, and then his other artists, becomes a patron when, according to André Malraux, donates ten sculptures of Catalan to install them in the gardens of the Tuileries.
A Paris stroller, friend and occasional client, although he preferred books to the paintings, François Mitterrand, will have a decisive influence, already president, to eliminate bureaucratic obstacles – French ethics, of course – to the Foundation. And especially to the Museum, since the conservatives are and as officials they detest private competition.
The inauguration, “a birth” according to Vierny that had lived a couple, biological, with the births of Olivier and Bertrand, children of the sculptor Jean Lorquin, counted on the presence of a very diminished Mitterrand, a few months after his death.
Olivier Lorquin precisely says that in sketches of Maillol, made before Dina Vierny was born, his lines are clearly distinguished, “almost like a portrait, as if the sculptor sensed it”.
Aristide Bonaventure Jean Maillol was born in Banyuls-sur-mer in 1861 and had ten years left to live, in 1934, when the image of his sculptures appeared in body and soul. Dina Vierny had been born fifteen years earlier in the capital of Bessarabia – today divided between Moldova and Ukraine – and her family, Jewish, emigrated for fear of pogroms.
She did not know fear. Integrated into the so-called Fry Committee, during the Second War, her red dress (which Maillol would immortalize in Dina à la robe rouge, in 1940) was the identification for Jews and antifascists to follow her along the path of smugglers, a path renamed Via Maillol , that allowed them to cross the Pyrenees.
Three years after the death of her mentor, Dina opens her gallery in Paris that will make known among others Serge Poliakoff, the Cobra group and the artists discovered by her in the 1960s in Moscow workshops: Kabakov or Erik Vladimirovitch Bulatov for example.
The gift of the sculptures of Maillol is the trigger that gives the idea of the Foundation
which buys a mansion of three thousand square meters on rue Grenelle. With the help of the architect Pierre Devinoy, student of Auguste Perret, Vierny devotes seventeen years to the renovation, respectful of the monument, of the palace where he will install the museum. In the basement, where a poetic cabaret by Jacques Prévert had worked, he set up a restaurant.
Tireless, he had time to create another museum, in the lonely farm in the valley of the Roume, near Banyuls, where Maillol worked and where he rests, under his statue Méditerranée .
Vierny, iron will and responsible for almost everything (in 1985 he delegated the gallery to Olivier Lorquin, but the museum and the Foundation were inviolable territories), he died in 2009.
That same year, the museum delegates its artistic management to Patrizia Nitti. The exhibitions experienced highs and lows of credibility and artistic level and a violent criticism of Libération , in 2012, provoked the unusual reaction of the museum, which took the courts to the morning.
Also worthy of centimetraje the unusual finding, in a bank of Menton -the Mediterranean city in which Vicente Blasco Ibáñez boasted wealth- of an artistic treasure: thirty-six notebooks, six hundred drawings, sculptures and oil paintings of Maillol, deposited in a safe by Miss Wessel, former “exotic dancer” and lover of Lucien, the sculptor’s only son.
According to Olivier Lorquin, in charge of the findings, everything was stolen, a detail that the Grasse court recognized (the same, by the way, that must now fail if another artistic treasure, the Picasso that your electrician claims to have received as a gift, are or not the result of a theft), before authorizing the auction.
but never of such magnitude. He probably did not know that everything was in the house. When Lucien died, she put the set in the bank safely and maybe she forgot it. ” The auction of a total of nine hundred works staggered prices between 600 and 61,000 euros.
In short, another detail that could convert the sculptures preserved in the Maillol museum in the prow of speculators: on December 2, 2013, an auction organized by Sotheby’s demolished records and raised the price of Maillol, when his La rivière, allegory of the horror of Second War and lead echo of the body of Dina Vierny, carried out between 1938 and 1943, obtained more than six million euros.