Jacques Majorelle was a French-born landscape painter during the first half of the Twentieth Century. He settled in Marrakesh in 1917 and, from the 1930s until his death in the early 1960s, developed a fabulous walled garden around his villa, with plants from all around the globe. After Majorelle died, the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent bought the villa and garden in order to preserve them and maintain their openness to the public (Majorelle had opened the gardens to the public in the 1940s). YSL, in turn, died in 2008 and bequeathed the lot to the city of Marrakesh.
|Memorial to Yves Saint Laurent
(his ashes were scattered in the garden)
Majorelle clearly loved intense, saturated color. He's best known for his electric "Majorelle Blue" -- which features prominently in the garden -- but also used yellows and oranges to complement.
With a climate such as Marrakesh has, Majorelle had the richly textured world of cacti and succulents at his fingertips. But by adding water features he was able to bring in smoother, more delicate textures as well.
Rigorous geometrical forms enclose the garden (walls and gates), set the tone for visitors as they enter and leave the garden (fountains at the entrance) and echo throughout the compound in myriad natural and man-made shapes.
Natural Form and Variation
Fortunately, Majorelle wasn't so tyrannical a designer as to eliminate all room for natural form and variation. Many of the plantings celebrated the crazy shapes and organic beauty of plants and animals in their natural state.