Musée Maillol: the legacy of modern art born out of one woman’s determination and dedication

Entrée du musée Maillol à Paris

Dina Vierny, the model and muse of sculptor and painter Aristide Maillol, gradually bought up all the buildings that now make up the Musée Maillol de Paris. Before that, the place had seen a great deal of action. Of an artistic nature, and of a domestic nature peppered with famous names. Before sketch run-throughs and music sessions for artists such as Yves Montand, Guy Bedos and Pierre Perret, there were 19th-century poets like Alfred de Musset. And before them nuns, in the 18th century, who donated the plot of land to the municipality, and had the site built partly as it looks today. They made it possible to create the historic facade adorned with the Fontaine aux quatre saisons by Edmé Bouchardon.

The musée Maillol: a museum recognised as a public service facility

Despite being privately owned, the musée Maillol is recognised as a public service facility. President Mitterrand was in attendance at its inauguration, having also inaugurated the musée d’Orsay. His presence instantly put the musée Maillol on the map in terms of modern art and sculpture in Paris.

Retrospective on Maillol: very precarious financial security

During his painting period, when he has trying to get into the Beaux-Arts de Paris, Maillol was so poor that he was hospitalised with malnutrition. He harboured much ill will towards the Beaux-Arts, and allowed Gauguin to exert more of an influence on him, at a time when he was entering his tapestry period. Encouraged by Maurice Denis, his artistic expression shifted towards sculpture in 1900. He began to make a name for himself on the Parisian art scene. It was then that Henri Matisse befriended him.
And so he came to open a small gallery to gauge his worth with modern art dealers Ambroise Vollard bought a few sculptures from him (and rightly so). But ultimately it was Kessler, himself also an art dealer, who on the advice of Rodin met with Maillol and became his patron.
Success came knocking at long last when he was commissioned to create monumental works and his career took on an international dimension.
After his death, Dina Vierny donated a great many sculptures to get him noticed by the general public. Thanks to her, 18 of his statues of voluptuous women have stood adorning the jardin du Carrousel near the Louvre in Paris since 1964.


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Unique pieces in the permanent exhibition

On the 2nd floor of the museum, in the Aristide Maillol rooms, you’ll find 250 m² dedicated to the artist’s entire body of work right from the early days: his first paintings, tapestries and wood carvings. If you wanted to hire the place out privately, you would actually have access to these iconic works, as well as to the Café des frères Prévert. Bearing in mind that, before the building became a museum, the entire performing arts line-up of Paris graced the cabaret that the brothers had opened, bearing the symbolic name of La Fontaine des quatre saisons.
A unique opportunity to experience and take a look back at the career of an artist with an international dimension.

The Musée Maillol’s acclaimed exhibitions

The musée Maillol in Paris sometimes moves away from Maillol’s more mainstream works, presenting contemporary Pop Art and Pop culture artists. And also artists from the naive art and Russian avant-garde movements, all of whom were at odds with the eras in which they lived. The “Du Douanier Rousseau à Séraphine” exhibition was an example of this.
The Museum really tries to break the mould with its temporary exhibitions, for example by presenting spiritualist painters.

It’s an intriguing concept that naturally piques the interest of many. It also has a wow factor, so complex and perplexing are the works presented at these exhibitions. How come former miners and cafe proprietors, who had had absolutely nothing to do with painting, were able to produce such meticulous, technical and inspired works, simply because voices told them to?
Go and see the work of Augustin Lesage for yourself. It makes a good case for believing (once more).

What benefits does the Musée Maillol offer you?

Would you like to have the Musée Maillol all to yourself, for you and your guests, outside of opening hours? Because you could have all of that! Access to temporary and permanent exhibitions, access to the Café des frères Prévert and to the courtyard where you can put up a marquee. You could also have your own guide conférencier tour guide for a visit to the museum.
If you want to support the work of the fondation Dina Vierny, you have the choice between becoming a benefactor member and an associate member. This allows you to attend sneak previews, go on private visits and attend exclusive annual events.

For the best possible experience, the museum recommends that visitors (including benefactors) book a visit slot online. It’s the only way ensure that you get into the museum during opening hours.

Head to 59-61 rue de Grenelle, in the splendid 7th arrondissement of Paris, with a few people or as a group. Come and check out the collections encompassing the last two centuries of history and creation.