Françoise Gilot

(French, b. 1921)

Available works by Françoise Gilot


Artist Biography

French painter Françoise Gilot occupies a unique niche in the modern art landscape as a female giant of the art world.  At 96, she remains one of the most exciting and collectible artists of our century, as well as the preceding one.

Born in 1921, Gilot’s career was shaped by the artistic milieu of World War II German-occupied Paris. Having declared at age six her intention to be an artist, Gilot was well on her way before entering college. After years of diligent lessons in watercolor and india ink, followed by an apprenticeship in etching and printmaking, Gilot displayed an early facility for draftsmanship.  A gifted academic student, she obtained her baccalaureate degree at age 16 and earned advanced degrees in English Literature and law. But her destiny was clear:  she was and would be an artist, a rebellion that violently angered her father and resulted in a rift between them that never completely healed. 

In the fraught wartime environment, her drive and ambition flourished, and she became one of the rising stars of her generation, loosely aligned with the burgeoning School of Paris movement. Much of her early work was destroyed in an evacuation attempt, but what survives displays skill and confidence beyond her years. 

She met Pablo Picasso in a café on the eve of her first formal exhibition. Despite their 40-year age difference, Gilot answered his charismatic celebrity with her own strong sense of self.  After viewing her work, he took her seriously as a challenge both artistic and personal; their productive decade-long creative and romantic partnership launched her career and elevated his. They had two children together, Paloma and Claude, and shared famous friends such as Matisse, Braque and the poet Paul Éluard before Gilot ended the relationship, unwilling to sacrifice her career or her identity to remain in his shadow. 

Leaving Paris behind her, she became a pioneer, establishing a studio in London and traveling through the middle east and later to America where she attracted the attention of another pioneer, medical giant Dr. Jonas Salk; they remained married twenty-five years until his death in 1995.       

Now, after seven decades of creative achievement, Gilot is widely recognized as an innovative colorist and superlative draftsman; her work has been shown in museum exhibitions worldwide and she has published several successful books. Her well-documented oeuvre comprises more than 6,000 paintings as well as drawings and printmaking works, and she has designed theater sets for the stage and ballet productions. In 2012 she was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the nation of France. 

Gilot has been featured in numerous publications throughout her long career, such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She has been interviewed twice by Charlie Rose, featured on CBS Sunday Morning in 2017, and recently portrayed by French actress Clémence Poésy in the National Geographic Channel's Emmy nominated mini series "Genius: Picasso."

Museum Collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; McMullen Museum of Art, Boston, Massachusetts; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana; Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, Michigan; Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris; Musee Picasso, Antibes, France; Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art, Collegeville, Pennsylvania; National Academy of Design, New York; Musee de Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel; Women’s Museum, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Biblioteque Nationale, Paris; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona; Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, Florida; Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, California; Witchita State University Museum, Wichita, Kansas; Fort Wayne Art Museum, Fort Wayne, Indiana; Ferris State College, Big Rapids, Michigan; Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Museum of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico; University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, California; Scripps College, Claremont, California; and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.


Recent Press

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The New Yorker

How Picasso’s Muse Became a Master



How Pablo Picasso’s Women Inspired His Art


The New York Times

Gilot, Does Not Regret Her Picasso Memoir



“Life with Picasso” stands as an Invaluable Work of Art History


National Post

The Story of Picasso from Françoise Gilot



Female Artists who should be as Celebrated as their Partners

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CBS News

Françoise Gilot, Debuts Her Worldly Sketches


The Telegraph

Picasso’s Lover on Life with a Tempestuous Genius

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Picasso’s Muses and the Woman Who Said No


Smithsonian Magazine

The Travel Sketchbooks of Françoise Gilot


The New York Times

In New Sketchbooks, Françoise Gilot Clears Her Mind of Past

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The Guardian

‘It wasn’t a sentimental love’: Françoise Gilot on Picasso

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Town & Country

Picasso’s Muse, Paints Every Day, and just Published New Book



Picasso & Françoise Gilot: “Mano a Mano”

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The New York Times

Book Review “About Women” by Françoise Gilot & Lisa Alther

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Wall Street Journal

Françoise Gilot Reminisces about Matisse



Life After Picasso: Françoise Gilot



CBS Sunday Morning: Françoise Gilot (2017)

It was in 1943, during the German occupation of Paris, that Françoise Gilot met Pablo Picasso. She was 21; he was 61. Gilot would later write, "It was a catastrophe I didn't want to avoid." Now 95, Gilot talked with Anthony Mason about her life as an artist, and as a muse and partner to one of the most famous and controversial painters in history.

Tate Modern: Studio Visit with Françoise Gilot (2013)

Françoise Gilot, muse to Picasso, on her own career as an artist. At the age of 92 Françoise Gilot continues to paint every day. In this interview from her New York studio, she talks about a life lived at the centre of French modernism, and her own approach to making art.

Tate Modern: Françoise Gilot on Matisse (2014)

'Matisse was my god,' says Françoise Gilot - the lover and muse of his good friend and rival, Pablo Picasso. Also a painter herself, Françoise Gilot recounts the time that Picasso took her to the south of France to meet her hero, Henri Matisse.

Charlie Rose: Interview with Françoise Gilot (1998)

A conversation with artist and author Françoise Gilot about her life and career.