Home Architect Françoise Gilot (1921-2023) – Artforum International

Françoise Gilot (1921-2023) – Artforum International

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Painter Françoise Gilot, whose 1964 memoir detailing her tumultuous ten-year relationship with Pablo Picasso became an international bestseller, died on June 6 in New York at the age of 101. Having met Picasso when she was only twenty-one and he was forty years older, she gave birth to two of his children – Claude Picasso and Paloma Picasso – before becoming, by her admission, the only woman to never left him. Picasso pressured galleries not to work with her, but Gilot, anxious to rebuild her career, continued to paint and exhibit. At his death, his works were in the collections of more than a dozen major institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Center Pompidou in Paris, and his paintings, as evidenced by the 2021 Auction of Paloma on guitara 1965 portrait of his daughter, for $1.3 million, had passed the million dollar mark in value.

Françoise Gilot was born on November 26, 1921 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, the only child of an agronomist father and a mother who had studied art history, ceramics and watercolour. Gilot was drawn to art from an early age and her mother gave her lessons in watercolor and Indian ink, avoiding such impermanent mediums as pencil and pastels in the pattern she thought they caused artists to rely too much on erasers. Forced by her father, who was hoping for a son, to pursue studies in international law, Gilot obtained her license in philosophy at the Sorbonne at the age of seventeen before obtaining a license in English literature at the University of Cambridge, and then to enroll in law school in Rennes, continuing to paint on the side. Shortly after the German invasion of France in 1940, she dropped out to pursue art full time.

Gilot’s first exhibition took place in Paris in 1943. That same year, she met Picasso in a Parisian café, when he approached her and a friend. Upon learning that the two were artists, Picasso expressed his disbelief and invited them to his studio. Gilot accepted the invitation and continued to visit, although Picasso was at the time involved in relationships with photographer Dora Maar and with muse Marie-Thérèse Walter. Later describing her own impending affair with the Spanish painter in the pages of her memoirs as “a catastrophe I did not want to avoid”, Gilot embarked on a relationship with Picasso that would be marked by both passion and violence. , as well as the birth of the couple’s two children. Having been hesitant to move in with the wayward entertainer, she discovered that once she did, he turned his attention to winning over other women. In 1953, she announced to him that she was leaving.

“Do you imagine that people will be interested in you?” he asked him. “They’ll never, really, just do it for yourself. Even if you think people like you, it’s only going to be some kind of curiosity they have for someone whose life has touched mine so intimately. .

Unfazed, Gilot left, taking her children with her, and persevered in her artistic endeavors. Two years later, she married the French artist Luc Simon. The couple had a daughter, Aurelia, before divorcing. In 1964, she published Life with Picasso. Written with Carlton Lake, the revealing memoirs exasperate Picasso who, having failed three times to block their publication, refuses to see the couple’s children again. Although the book earned Gilot the enmity of Picasso’s supporters, it was extremely well received. In 1996, the volume served as the basis for the film Merchant-Ivory Surviving Picasso; today it is considered essential reading on the legendary artist.

Gilot married virologist Jonas Salk, father of the polio vaccine, in 1970, to whom she remained married until his death in 1995. Her son, Claude Picasso, is the director of the Picasso administration, which oversees the estate. of the artist, and his daughter, Paloma Picasso, is a perfume and jewelry designer. In 2018 Gilot published three sketchbooks documenting his travels to Venice, India and Senegal. She continued to exhibit her work until 2021, and was notably the subject of Gagosian Gallery’s 2012 exhibition “Picasso and Françoise Gilot: Paris-Vallauris, 1943-1953”, curated by the renowned scholar of Picasso John Richardson, who initially condemned his memoirs. Review of the show for art forumRobert Pincus-Witten called Gilot “dreadful”, noting her influence on Picasso’s work, as no critic would probably have dared to do at the time she left him, or for some time after.

“As young women, [my generation] have learned to shut up,” she told the New York Times in 2022. “We were taught early on that taking second place is easier than first. You tell yourself it’s good, she says, but it’s not good.


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