Disheartened with the teaching of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and very impressed by the art of Paul Gauguin and Maurice Denis, who met and encouraged him, Maillol became interested in tapestry. He regularly exhibited his tapestries, sculptured wood, miniatures and enamelled terracotta at the Gallery of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In 1895, he set up a tapestry workshop in Banyuls.
Aristide Maillol: his life and work
Closed since 15 February 2015, the museum reopens in September after important work, with an exhibition in honour of the artist Ben Vautier.
In 1955, Dina Vierny, a model and collaborator of Aristide Maillol, bought an apartment in the building to live in. Gradually, over the course of the next 30 years, she managed to purchase all of the buildings on site.
During the Revolution, the convent was closed and the buildings were auctioned off. The various structures were sold to private individuals, and then underwent major transformations and reconstructions in the early years of the 19th century, giving the courtyard its current appearance.
He met Clotilde Narcis, who became one of his models, at his workshop. They married in Paris on 7 July 1896. On 30 October the artist's only son, Lucien, was born in Banyuls-sur-Mer. He also became a painter.
Maillol often invited his friends, known as the "Nabis" or "Prophets", to his home: Maurice Denis, Ker Xavier Roussel, Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard and later Henri Matisse. These artists would remain close friends throughout their lives. Maillol then began working exclusively on sculpture. He made terracotta pieces that were much admired by his friends, and were depicted in several of their works.
Maillol had his first major success at the Salon d'Automne in 1905 with the Méditerranée (Mediterranean) plaster sculpture. Kessler commissioned a monumental stone version of this sculpture from Maillol, a high relief piece called Le Désir (Desire), then a half life-size sculpture, Le Jeune Cycliste (the Young Cyclist). His friends Gustave Geffroy and Octave Mirbeau got him a commission for a monument from Auguste Blanqui, called l'Action enchaînée (chain reaction). He did a portrait of Renoir in 1907 in Cagnes and he also worked on the sculpture La Nuit (The Night).
In 1934, Aristide Maillol, at the peak of his fame, met Dina Vierny who was then 15 years old. She soon became his model and close collaborator and continued to work with him until his death. Between 1937 and 1944, Maillol produced the monumental sculptures L'Air (Air), La Montage (Montage), La Rivière (River) with Dina as his model.
Dina Vierny worked hard to bring the works of Maillol to a wider audience, and to create a museum dedicated to him.
Maillol retired to Banyuls in September 1939. He wanted to escape the folly of mankind. He lived alone in the mountains and began painting again. He began work on his final statue, Harmonie (Harmony), which he never finished. With the help of Dina Vierny, he began preparing an inventory of his oeuvre. He did a lot of drawing and painting.