Francoise Gilot


Francoise Gilot is considered one of the most enduring artists of the post WW II School of Paris modern masters. She was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine France in 1921. In her very first art exhibition (Paris - 1943) she (at age 21) meets Pablo Picasso (then 61), beginning a personal and artistic relationship that would last over a decade. Francoise Gilot was publicly known as Picasso's lover and artistic muse from 1944-1953. During this time, Picasso created an exhaustive body of works titled after "Francoise". She had two children with Pablo. Their first child was born Claude Picasso in 1947, and Paloma Picasso was born 2 years later. They never married.

During the Picasso years, Gilot became part of a circle of friends referred to as the French Intelligentsia which included such figures as Gertrude Stein, Marc Chagall, Joan Miro, Georges Braque, and writer/philosopher Simon Beauvoir. Her friendship with Henri Matisse very much influenced her work and artistic sensibility but it was Braque and Picasso, who began the Analytic Cubism movement in the early 1900's, which influenced her unique cubist style.

After Gilot's relationship with Picasso ends, she meets an artist named Luc Simon. In 1955 they marry. It was during her time with Simon, that her artwork found additional influences through her new acquaintances from other modern masters such as Tony Rosenthal, Adolph Gottlieb, and Jean Dubuffet. In 1963, one year after divorcing Simon, she decides to release her first and most famous book 'Life with Picasso'.  Concerns of being sued by Picasso, she consults professional attorneys before releasing the work for public sale. It sells over a million copies in it's first year and has been translated in over a dozen languages. In 1969, she meets and later marries the great vaccine pioneer, Jonas Salk.

During her 25 year marriage to Dr. Salk, she maintained studios in California, New York, and Paris. Her work led her to a 1973 appointment as Art Director of the Scholarly journal "Virginia Woolf Quarterly. In 1976 she became a member of the board at the school of Fine Arts at USC. Thorough out the 80's and 90's, she worked for the Guggenheim in NY, where she designed stage sets, costumes, and masks for their many of their productions.