Not even a pandemic can crush the spirit of southeastern Connecticut’s artist community. The Finer…
Above: Alexander Calder, untitled lithograph, 1968
June 24 through September 24, 2023
Mystic Museum of Art (MMoA) is pleased to present From Crisis to Color: Derrière le
Miroir (Behind the Mirror), an exhibition of original artwork by the stars of early 20th
century Modern and Contemporary Art. With generous support from The Kitchings
Family Foundation and from CT Humanities, the exhibition will open to the public on
Saturday, June 24 and run through Saturday, September 24, 2023.
Our goal is to place Mystic in the context of the international art world, said Executive
Director and Chief Curator V. Susan Fisher. “The fundamental right to quality of life,
here and now, as in post-war Europe, includes the experience of art.”
From Crisis to Color: Derrière le Miroir (Behind the Mirror) portrays how the remarkable
Parisian art-dealer, curator, and publisher, Aimé Maeght, encouraged artists to reinvent
the art world amidst the rubble left behind by World War II. Maeght knew that by
putting original artwork in the hands of ordinary people he could help rebuild the
identity of his city and his country. His unique publication, entitled Derrière le Miroir
(“Behind the Mirror”) allowed modern masters and emerging artists alike complete
freedom in creating original lithographs for public circulation. Even with the simplest,
least expensive materials, he knew, art would find a way: to mourn inexpressible loss; to
revive imagination and vision; and to reclaim freedom of expression and foster a new
joie de vivre.
Today, the list of artists who created Derrière le Miroir, reads like a Who’s Who of
Modern masters. A small sampling of the artists encouraged and fostered by Aimé
Maeght, his wife Marguerite, and two generations of his family, includes: Henri Matisse,
Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque, André
Derain, and Ellsworth Kelly, to name just a few. In turn these artists worked with major
writers and poets to create an unparalleled blend of art and literature.
World War II shattered the identity, economy, and physical environment of its
battlefield countries. When General Charles de Gaulle and his entourage set off from
the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs Elysées to Notre Dame for Thanksgiving service
following the city’s liberation in August 1944, a world of hurt and a desperate need for
reconstruction awaited him.
Enter Aimé Maeght. “I got the idea that great painters should do limited series of lithos,
so that the greatest number of people could buy them,” he said. And so was created
Derrière le Miroir, a series of unique, unbound exhibition publications. Exhibiting artists
had complete freedom to create original editions. 253 unique issues were created from
1946 to 1982.
Aimé Maeght’s granddaughter, Yoyo Maeght explained “An original lithograph is not a
reproduction of a drawing or a painting. Even if it’s small, you have ‘le geste’ – the actual
movement of the hand of the artist. It is better than the reproduction of paintings in a
book… The artists all loved this idea because they could create something, a direct
record of what they were doing at the moment, with no filter…”
The artists exhibiting at the time in Galerie Maeght were turned loose in the family’s
printing studio. “Aimé’s granddaughter recalled “…For each exhibition, copies arrived
just a few hours before the opening. Everyone in the gallery—even my grandfather–
saw the issue for the first time then!”
By circulating innovative works of art through the shattered cultural systems of Europe,
Aimé Maeght helped revive the life of art and culture after World War II. While George
Braque’s rich and somber late works and Alberto Giacometti’s timeless solitary figures
acknowledge the darkest side of wartime experience, Marc Chagall’s unforgettable
dreams of a vanished past embraced and consoled a public scarcely able to express its
losses. Joan Miró and Alexander Calder turned to childlike abstraction to develop a
restorative, joyful, and intuitive freedom of expression…
From Crisis to Color: Derrière le Miroir (Behind the Mirror) is a rare opportunity to see
such an international scope of brilliant artistry and how it seeded a return from
oppression to creative expression.
Mystic Museum of Art (MMoA) has served as a focal point for the arts in southeastern
Connecticut for more than 100 years. Founded in 1913 as the Mystic Art Association, the
museum now engages visitors in richly curated exhibitions, interpretive activities, studio
classes, and outreach programs. MMoA’s mission is to inspire creativity and critical
dialogue by engaging the regional community in the understanding, appreciation, and
practice of visual art.
Support for MMoA exhibitions has been provided by the Kitchings Family Foundation
and CT Humanities (CTH).
When: June 24 to September 24, 2023, hours: 11 AM to 5 PM daily.
Where: Mystic Museum of Art (MMoA) 9 Water Street, Mystic, CT 06378
Cost: $10 special exhibition upcharge, free to children under 12, military veterans, active
military, and their families.
For more information: 860.536.7601