Françoise Gilot, a well-known painter who worked for over 50 years but rose to fame because of her turbulent relationship with Pablo Picasso and subsequent breakup, d!ed on Tuesday in New York City at 101.
Aurelia Engel, Gilot’s daughter, confirmed her mother’s passing at Mount Sinai West Hospital and cited complications from heart and lung conditions.
Engel said of her mother: “She was an extremely talented artist, and we will be working on preserving her legacy and the incredible paintings and works she has left behind.” Engel expressed respect for her mother’s enormous artistic talent.
They first met in 1943 when Gilot was just 21 and Picasso was 61. Before shockingly deciding to split from Picasso in 1953, the couple eventually produced two children: Claude and Paloma Picasso.
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Painter Françoise Gilot, whose 1964 memoir detailing her tumultuous, decade-long relationship with Pablo Picasso became an international bestseller, has died at age 101. https://t.co/TmJrvq3nzh
— artforum (@Artforum) June 6, 2023
Picasso was caught off guard when Gilot left him to Engel, who said, “He never saw it coming. She was there because she loved him and because she truly believed in the extraordinary passion for art that they both shared. (But) she came as a free, though very young, but very independent person.”
At 94, Gilot said her decision to leave Picasso was solely her own in an interview in The Guardian. She said, “I’d been there of my own will, and I left of my own will,” she conveyed.
“That’s what I told him once, before I left. I said: ‘Watch out because I came when I wanted to, but I will leave when I want.’ He said, ‘Nobody leaves a man like me.’ I said, ‘We’ll see.'” “Life with Picasso” and “Surviving Picasso” tell their story.
Gilot’s candid biography, “Life with Picasso,” which delved into their turbulent relationship, was released in 1964. Picasso made an effort to stop its publication but was unsuccessful.
“He attacked her in court, and he lost three times. After the third loss, he called her and said congratulations. He fought it, but at the same time, I think he was proud to have been with a woman who had such courage like he did.” Their narrative also served as the basis for the 1996 movie “Surviving Picasso.”
Gilot got divorced from Picasso and got married twice more after that. In her first marriage, she married Luc Simon, an artist, and Dr. Jonas Salk, a prominent American virologist best known for developing the polio vaccine, in her second. In 1995, Dr. Salk passed away.
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Gilot, born on November 26, 1921, in the Paris district of Neuilly-sur-Seine, fell in love with art at a young age. Gilot started exhibiting her artwork in 1943, the same year she met Picasso, setting the foundation for their incredible romance, despite her parents’ wishes for her to pursue a career in law.
“I was 21, and I felt that painting was already my whole life,” Gilot wrote in “Life With Picasso.” She recounted Picasso’s reaction when he learned she and a friend were painters, remarking, “That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. Girls who look like that can’t be painters.”
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