Born in the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Marie Francoise Gilot decided at the age of five to become an artist. Raised in an environment which fostered appreciation for both the arts and the sciences – her father was a respected businessman and agronomist - it was her mother, an accomplished watercolorist, who first nurtured Gilot’s artistic interests, teaching her how to draw with ink rather than pencil to encourage her not to erase a misdirection but rather to incorporate it into a new direction forward. Although her father decreed that Gilot study international law, her consuming passion to become a painter, coupled with her independent spirit, compelled her to lead a double life, secretly studying art rather than attending her morning law classes.
Initially studying privately with the Hungarian-French surrealist painter, Endre Rozsda and at the famed Academie Julian with the French painter, Jean Souverbie, at the young age of 20, Francoise Gilot was well respected among the artists of the emerging School of Paris, a movement struggling for recognition during the years after The Occupation of Paris. In 1943, at the time of her first exhibition, Gilot met Pablo Picasso, an artist 40 years her senior. In 1946, Gilot and Picasso began a decade long relationship and Gilot became both a witness and a participant in one of the last great periods of the modern art movement in
Europe. Their relationship was two-way dialogue of shared interests and intellectual compatibility; their circle included poets, philosophers, writers and many legends of the art world, such as Braque, Chagall, Cocteau and Matisse. Gilot’s visage is captured in many of Picasso’s works during this period and Gilot encouraged his work in ceramics at the Madoura workshop, not far from their home in Vallauris, France. This artistic union was also shared with their two children, Claude and Paloma, their playful antics often the subject of works by both artists.
By late 1953, the relationship had run its course and Gilot distinguished herself as the only woman to walk away from Picasso. In the mid-1950s, Gilot married Luc Simon, an aspiring artist of her own generation and in 1956, gave birth to her second daughter, Aurelia. However, by the early 1960s, Gilot and Simon had separated and divorced.
In 1964, Francoise Gilot (with Carlton Lake) published “Life with Picasso”. Translated into more than a dozen languages, it remains today as a unique and insightful observation of the human aspects of creative genius.
While traveling in California in 1969, Gilot was introduced to Dr. Jonas Salk, the polio vaccine pioneer and founding director of the Salk Institute, the renowned research facility in La Jolla, CA. Gilot knows well the science of art and Dr. Salk always encouraged an artistic approach to science. The couple were married in Paris in 1970. During their 25 years together, Gilot maintained studios in California, New York and Paris, continuing her trajectory as an artist - teaching, lecturing, writing and exhibiting her paintings and works on paper in museums and galleries worldwide.
Now residing in New York, Francoise Gilot celebrated her centenarian year in 2021. Her continuing explorations as an artist demonstrate how vitality and tradition can be simultaneously maintained while moving forward through the art world continuum.
Auction Results Françoise Gilot