I have to start this post with an apology. As a part of my BUS 1910 course, I am required to write these blog posts and, in the process, treat on a certain number of subjects. One of said subjects is the organizational and professional culture of my firm and other firms in my industry. And here, I’ve met with a small problem.
It’s mostly classified.
Earlier on my internship, I met with the secretary to the director of the gallery to speak about a paper that I was writing, also for this course. I wanted to talk about opportunities to improve efficiency through bookkeeping methods. I got about one sentence into the explanation of my idea before she said, “absolutely not. That’s proprietary information.”
Naturally, I changed the subject of my paper. I’m not trying to get fired, and really, I put more value in respecting my employer than getting an A. It’s not worth it.
So, it’s pretty clear that the gallery keeps a tight lock and key on these sorts of things, and as such, I apologize, because I’m really going to be writing around this subject more than I will be writing about it.
The gallery is family-owned. Found in 1946 by Aimé Maeght, it subsequently passed hands to his son, Adrien, and then his granddaughter, Isabelle, who is the current director. This is not quite so shrouded in secrecy: the Maeght children were raised in the presence of some of the most influential artists that we know today, and they regularly speak about it. Their childhood photos are easy to find online, like the one I have shown here of Yoyo Maeght playing piano with Duke Ellington, who often visited the gallery. That kind of childhood is hard to keep under wraps, and the family shares their personal stories of the artists that they knew. However, this same family structure and close friendship with their artists also means a high level of internal solidarity, and thus a high level of privacy around internal processes.
I can also tell you that the laws regarding use, reproduction and advertisement of artwork in France are much stricter than in the U.S. While the gallery has certain kinds of agreements with its artists that allow it to use images on varying levels (again, these particulars are also classified), they are also confined by French law, which gives the majority of the power to the artist. This kind of controlled, dictated environment does not easily lend to an open, transparent company either.
The last thing that I can (vaguely) tell you is that I, as an intern in the gallery, have been allowed to observe many processes. I’m not looking at financial information, but I know where things go, who does what, and much about the internal politics of the company–which, again, are deeply private. Maeght is a name and a brand. It’s people, it’s a place, it’s a piece of art history. For me to describe how this person feels about that one, or even the nuances of how duties are divided, can change the carefully crafted that the company–and the family members–have made for themselves. I’d like to respect that.
Even a closed door can tell a lot.