This work is registered under the archive number 1640 in the Francoise Gilot Archives
Françoise Gilot was born in 1921 in Paris, France. Her mother, Madeleine Renoult-Gilot, was a watercolor artist, and taught young Françoise. In 1934 Gilot began taking weekly classes with her mother’s old art teach, Mlle. Meuge, and would set up her first studio in 1938 in her grandmothers attic.
She studied English literature at Cambridge University and the British Institute in Paris. She graduated from the Sorbonne with a B.A. in Philosophy in 1938 and from Cambridge University with a degree in English in 1939. Ater graduation she was sent by her father to law school in Rennes, where she was pushed to pursue international law. She eventually abandoned her studies in law to devote her life to art and was mentored by the artist Endre Rozsda.
In 1943 Gilot, aged 21, met Pablo Picasso, aged 61, and for the next three years they saw much of each other as Gilot continued to work on her art and travel. In 1946 she moved in with him, and gave birth to their first child, Claude, in 1947. They moved to Vallauris in 1948 and their second child, Paloma, was born in 1949. They divided their time between Vallauris and Paris until Gilot left him in 1953.
In 1954, Gilot met Luc Simon, an artist, and the two married in 1955. Together they had a daughter, Aurelia, and though they had a happy marriage, eventually they split in 1961, remaining on good terms. During this time, Gilot faced some backlash from ending her relationship with Picasso. An art dealer who used to exhibit her work terminated her contract due to pressure from Picasso, who was also his client. In 1957 Gilot obtained a new contract with Galerie Coard and continued to create and exhibit her work in Paris and then internationally throughout the 1960s.
In 1970 Gilot married Dr Jonas Salk, creator of the polio vaccine. They had a happy marriage until his death in 1995. She continued to create her art and exhibit all over the United States and the world, spending much of her time in La Jolla, New York, and Paris. She was awarded a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1990.
Francoise Gilot continues to paint daily in her NY studio. Her works of recent years, including our example, exhibit bold and abstract color and shape. She recently commented with passion: “As long as I am breathing, I am painting.”
1 Griffey Harriet, “A Life in Art Francoise Gilot”, Harper’s Bazzare Art, November 2019