The Paris museum dedicated to the memory of the French sculptor Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), reopens to the public today (14 September), 18 months after a serious financial crisis.
The Musée Maillol, which was founded by the artist’s model Dina Vierny in 1995, struggled with falling visitor numbers before abruptly closing its doors last February. Tecniarte, the company that managed the museum and its exhibitions programme on behalf of the Dina Vierny foundation from 2009 to 2015, filed for bankruptcy with debts of €3.3m. Last October, the foundation signed a long-term contract with a new private operator, Culturespaces, which produces exhibitions for French museums including the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris and the Caumont Centre d’Art in Aix-en-Provence.
The change of management coincides with a new look for the Musée Maillol—and a return to the contemporary art shows that Vierny herself used to organise. The Left Bank building has been renovated and expanded to create larger exhibition galleries on the ground and first floor. Where Tecniarte focussed on Italian Old Masters and antiquities, Culturespaces plans to show Modern and contemporary art, a surer crowd-pleaser.
“It seemed natural to return to a programme that Dina Vierny would have wanted,” says Sophie Hovanessian, the exhibitions director of Culturespaces. “Maillol is a 20th-century artist [and Vierny] herself ran a bold programme, often with living artists. There was an idea of going back to the [museum’s] roots.”
After a retrospective for the Nice-based artist Ben (Is Everything Art?, until 15 January), the Musée Maillol will present exhibitions dedicated to the collection of the influential French art dealer Paul Rosenberg and the 1960s art scene in France, Hovanessian says.
Meanwhile, the collection has been entirely reinstalled on the museum’s second floor to guide visitors through Maillol’s varied practice, ranging from his early paintings and wooden sculptures to preparatory cartoons for his tapestries, which were much admired by Paul Gauguin. Large sculptures of classical female nudes, the works for which Maillol is best known, take pride of place in a suite of luminous rooms. The collection displays conclude with the artist’s return to painting in the 1930s and 40s, a new direction inspired by the teenage Vierny.