Françoise Gilot, painter and free woman, is dead

Françoise Gilot (1921-1995), French painter and partner of Pablo Picasso, and her daughter Paloma Picasso (born in 1949).  Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes), around 1952.

French painter and writer Françoise Gilot died Tuesday in a Manhattan hospital. She was 101 years old. His death was confirmed at World by the Picasso Museum, of which she was the companion and muse from 1944 to 1953.

Named at birth Marie-Françoise, she was born on November 26, 1921 in Neuilly-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine) into a bourgeois family of engineers and merchants. Introduced to watercolor by her mother in 1928, then by her teacher from 1934, she had her first studio in her grandmother’s apartment – while taking English and French lessons. philosophy, then, in 1939, by right, at the instigation of her father, little inclined to see her become an artist. Vain reluctance, since she returned to painting the following year, in the Paris of the Occupation. On November 11, 1940, she took part in an anti-Nazi demonstration under the Arc de Triomphe, and was briefly arrested by the German police.

While still slowly taking law lessons, she continued her artistic training with the Hungarian painter and photographer Endre Rozsda (1913-1999). Then come the episodes that will make his legend. In April 1943, she met, thanks to a childhood friend, the actor Alain Cuny. On May 8, she made her first exhibition in a small Parisian gallery and, on the 12th, Alain Cuny invited her to dinner with his friend at the restaurant Le Catalan. Picasso and Dora Maar are at the next table. Cuny and Picasso knowing each other, the presentations are made, and Picasso invites the two young women to visit his studio.

A few days later, Françoise Gilot learned that Picasso had gone to see his exhibition and, on May 17, the two friends went to his home, at 7, rue des Grands-Augustins. During the summer, Françoise announces to her parents her decision to devote herself exclusively to painting and sees herself deprived of resources by her father, as a form of retaliation. She then gave riding lessons in the Bois de Boulogne to live, enrolled at the Académie Julian, learned to dance with a student of Isadora Duncan and went more and more often to the studio of Picasso, where she met André Malraux, Pierre Reverdy or Jean Cocteau. Then, in the months that followed, she kept her distance from Picasso, preferring the company of young artists from the Réalités nouvelles group and claiming to be Sonia Delaunay, Jean Arp, Brancusi and other figures of modernity.

Françoise Gilot with Pablo Picasso in 1948 in Paris.

With Picasso, “an intellectual dialogue”

Picasso’s insistence on seeing her again, however, won out. In November, they find themselves in the workshop of the printer Mourlot, where he reveals to her lithographs which are, for the most part, portraits of her. In February 1946, they met in Golfe-Juan (Vallauris, Alpes-Maritimes) and Picasso took her to Nice, to Matisse, who offered to paint her in turn. In March, they return to Paris together and, in May, she finally agrees to live with him.

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