Marie Françoise Gilot
26 November 1921
British Institute in Paris
(m. 1955; div. 1962)
Françoise Gilot (born 26 November 1921) is a French painter, art critic, and bestselling author. In 1973 she was appointed art director of the scholarly journal Virginia Woolf Quarterly. In 1976 she joined the board of the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, where she taught summer courses and took on organizational responsibilities until 1983.
Gilot was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, to Emile and Madeleine Renoult-Gilot. Her father was a businessman and agronomist, and her mother was a watercolor artist. Her father was a strict man. Gilot began writing with her left hand as a young child, but at the age of four her father forced her to write with her right hand. As a result, Gilot became ambidextrous. She decided at the age of five to become a painter. The following year her mother tutored her in art, beginning with watercolors and India Ink. Gilot was then taught by her mother's art teacher, Mlle Meuge, for six years. She studied English literature at Cambridge University and the British Institute in Paris (now University of London Institute in Paris). While training to be a lawyer, Gilot was known to skip morning law classes to pursue her true passion: art. She graduated from the Sorbonne with a B.A. in Philosophy in 1938 and from Cambridge University with a degree in English in 1939. Gilot had her first exhibition of paintings in Paris in 1943.
Francoise's father Emile was a well-educated man who worked as a chemical manufacturer and agronomist, and he wanted his daughter to be just as educated as he and oversaw his daughter's education very closely. Gilot was tutored at home beginning at a young age and by the time Gilot was six years old she had a good knowledge of Greek mythology. By the age of fourteen she was reading books by Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, and Alfred Jarry. While Gilot's father had hoped she would go to school to become a scientist or lawyer, she was frequenting museums in Europe to understand and gain an appreciation for the masters. When Gilot was seventeen she attended the Sorbonne and the British Institute in Paris and had a baccalaureate degree in Philosophy. She received her English Literature degree from Cambridge University. During 1939 Gilot's father still wanted her to complete a degree in international law, and out of fear that Paris would be bombed during the war, Gilot was sent to Rennes, France, to begin law school. At the age of 19 she abandoned her studies in law to devote her life to art. She was mentored by the artist Endre Rozsda. In 1942 after abandoning law several times and returning on the insistence by her father, Gilot studied law for a second year and passed her written exams but failed her orals.
At 21, Gilot met Pablo Picasso, then 61. Picasso first saw Gilot in a restaurant in the spring of 1943. His mistress, Dora Maar, was devastated to learn that Picasso was replacing her with the much younger artist. After Picasso's and Gilot's meeting she moved in with him in 1946. They spent almost ten years together and those years revolved around art. He painted La femme-fleur, then his old friend Matisse, who liked Gilot, announced that he would create a portrait of her, in which her body would be pale blue and her hair leaf green.
It was believed by some art historians that Gilot's relationship with Picasso is what cut short her artistic career. When Gilot left Picasso, he told all art dealers he knew not to purchase her art, whereas Gilot herself has noted that continuing to identify her in relation to Picasso "does her a great disservice as an artist."
Picasso and Gilot never married, but they did have two children together because he promised to love and care for their children. Their son, Claude, was born in 1947 and their daughter, Paloma, was born in 1949. During their ten years together Gilot was often harassed on the streets of Paris by Picasso's legal wife, Olga Khokhlova, a former Russian ballet dancer, and Picasso himself physically abused her as well. In 1964, 11 years after their separation, Gilot wrote Life with Picasso (with the art critic Carlton Lake), a book that sold over one million copies in dozens of languages, despite an unsuccessful legal challenge from Picasso attempting to stop its publication. From then on, Picasso refused to see Claude or Paloma ever again. All the profits from the book were used to help Claude and Paloma mount a case to become Picasso's legal heirs.
Françoise Gilot was introduced to art at a young age by her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother had held a party when Françoise was about five years old. A certain man caught Gilot's eye as being interesting, and she asked her grandmother who the man was. He turned out to be a painter, Emile Mairet. Gilot's father became close friends with the painter, and Françoise would often tag along to visit his studio. At age six Françoise's mother began teaching her art with the exception of drawing. Her mother believed artists become too dependent on erasers and instead taught Françoise in watercolor and India ink. If she made a mistake she would have to make it intentional to her work. By the age of thirteen she began to study with Mlle Meuge, which continued for six years. At the age of fourteen she was introduced to ceramics, and a year later she studied with the Post-Impressionist painter Jacques Beurdeley. At the age of 21 she met Picasso. Although Picasso had influenced Françoise Gilot's work as a cubist painter, she developed her own style. She avoided the sharp edges and angular forms that Picasso sometimes used. Instead, she used organic figures. During the war, Gilot's father attempted to save the most valuable household belongings by moving them, but the truck was bombed by the Germans, leading to the loss of Gilot's drawings and watercolors.
In 1969, Gilot was introduced to American polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk at the home of mutual friends in La Jolla, California. Their shared appreciation of architecture led to a brief courtship and a 1970 wedding in Paris. During their marriage, which lasted until Salk's death in 1995, the couple lived apart for half of every year as Gilot continued to paint in New York City, La Jolla, and Paris.
In popular culture
- Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Life with Picasso, McGraw-Hill, 1964; Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1989, ISBN 978-0-385-26186-9
- Françoise Gilot, Le regard et son Masque, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1975, ISBN 978-2-7021-0092-9 – focuses on her development as an artist.
- Françoise Gilot, Interface: The Painter and the Mask, Press at California State University, Fresno, 1983
- Barbara Haskell, Françoise Gilot: An Artist's Journey 1943-1987, California State Univ, 1987, ISBN 978-0-912201-12-2; Little, Brown, 1989.
- Françoise Gilot, Matisse and Picasso: A Friendship in Art, Doubleday, 1990, ISBN 978-0-385-26044-2; New York: Anchor Books, 1992, ISBN 978-0-385-42241-3
- Françoise Gilot, Mel Yoakum, Françoise Gilot: monograph 1940-2000, Acatos, 2000, ISBN 978-2-940033-36-2
- "1940s". Archived from the original on 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-09-24. Retrieved 2017-09-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Bio 1970s". Archived from the original on 2017-09-24. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- "Francoise Gilot Archives". Francoisegilot.com. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
- "WIC Biography - Françoise Gilot". Wic.org. Archived from the original on 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
- "Françoise Gilot". Bauerart.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-13. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
- Gilot, Françoise, Monograph 1940-2000. Lausanne: Sylvio Acatos, 2000.
- "Françoise Gilot: Artist of the World." WIC Biography. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2014-06-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
- Gilot, Francoise and Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz. Francoise Gilot: Painting – Malerei. Germany: Kerber Verlag, 2003.
- Gilot, Françoise. "The F. Gilot Archives." Françoise Gilot. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-02. Retrieved 2014-06-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
- Hawley, Janet, 2011. "Pablo was the greatest love of my life ... I left before I was destroyed", Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July, pp. 14.
- Doyle, Sady (2014-01-23). "Bertolucci Wasn't the First Man to Abuse a Woman and Call It Art and He Won't Be the Last". Elle.com. Archived from the original on 2016-12-09. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- Brockes, Emma (June 10, 2016). "'It was not a sentimental love': Françoise Gilot on her years with Picasso". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
- Hawley, Janet, 2011. "Pablo was the greatest love of my life ... I left before I was destroyed", Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July, pp. 15.
- Museu Picasso Barcelona
- Surviving Picasso. DVD. Directed by James Ivory. Culver City, CA: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 1996.
- Michael Kimmelman (April 28, 1996), Picasso's Family Album Archived 2015-09-26 at the Wayback Machine New York Times.
- Hawley, Janet, 2011. "Pablo was the greatest love of my life ... I left before I was destroyed", Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July, pp. 19.
- Gilot, Françoise. "The F. Gilot Archives." Françoise Gilot. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-02. Retrieved 2014-06-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Lacher, Irene (6 March 1991). "A Place of Her Own : Culture: Francoise Gilot, Picasso's former lover and Jonas Salk's wife, wants to be known not as the companion of great men, but as their equal". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012.
- DODIE KAZANJIAN (2012-04-27). "Life After Picasso: Françoise Gilot". Vogue. Archived from the original on 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-12-31. Retrieved 2009-02-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Early Years - 1940s - 1950s - 1960s - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s - 2000s 1960 - 1969". Francoisegilot.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
- Jacobs, Charlotte Decroes (8 February 2018). "The Last Love of Jonas Salk". Nautilus. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
- Vogue Magazine: April 2012 Life After Picasso, Françoise Gilot Archived 2015-02-09 at the Wayback Machine
- Françoise Gilot Official site
- Françoise Gilot on IMDb
- "Picasso and Francoise Gilot: Paris-Vallauris, 1943-1953", Charlie Rose, May 17, 2012
- "An hour with French painter Francoise Gilot", Charlie Rose, February 13, 1998
- Françoise Gilot Collection at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin
- Francoise Gilot (1921 - )
- Françoise Gilot on artnet