francoise gilot

by Grace Bonney

One of the most important moments in my life was when my printmaking teacher gave me a stack of books about women in art and design. Frustrated by my own lack of skill when it came to painting and drawing, I found a trusted mentor in this teacher who would routinely empty her personal bookshelves into my arms and send me home to be inspired by the amazing women who’d come before me. While I ultimately decided that my real skills were outside of creating art, I never forgot those little moments of discovery when I found a new artist to look up and fall in love with. One of those artists was Françoise Gilot. I remember naively assuming her friendship with Picasso was completely platonic and about a shared love of art (I know, I was young). Something about her early self-portraits felt raw and powerful and, at the same time, vulnerable. She had a way of painting people that seemed to stare straight through you. I was looking for images of her art the other day and stumbled upon two great posts at Style Court about her work (and other fantastic portraits), so I thought I’d share my favorite images here. If you’ve ever wanted to attempt portraiture in a looser sense, Françoise is a great artist to check out (there’s an interview with her here). Much like Picasso, her line work feels effortlessly brave and powerful. xo, grace

Images above via Gallery M

Images above: Photograph of Gilot and portrait of Gilot by Pablo Picasso

Image above via Gallery M

Image above via Artnet

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  • I agree with you! I love artists, like Picasso and Gilot (and Warhol), who can use a single line to create a powerful and provoking image.

  • I was thrilled to see this (especially the Charlie Rose interview, which I didn’t know about!). I love her and her work very much. The New York Times reported last fall that at 90 she is still painting every day and that her work will be front and center in a show this spring that John Richardson is putting together focusing on the time she and Picasso were together.

  • Grace (or anybody), do you know where I could find a print or poster of the Picasso “head of a woman” portrait of Gilot? I’ve been trying to find it online without much luck.

  • The name in the title was familiar. Through the cobwebs in my mind, I do recall Gilot from research I did ages ago on Picasso. But, truthfully, I had no idea how talented she was, eclipsed by the master, I suppose. It is a wonderful surprise. She was influenced by the art that surrounded her but emerged with linework that remains fresh and timeless.
    Thank you Grace, for your inimitable eye for beauty….past, present, and future.

  • She is such an interesting person! I’ve read one of her books, Picasso & Matisse (or Matisse & Picasso, now I don’t remember the order =) and it was a great insight on their friendship, and her life with Picasso, their relationship and domestic life (kids and all). You have to be a strong person to develop your own style while living amongst such powerful famous talents.

  • I just finished FG book, “Life with Picasso” from 1964. A fascinating portrayal of her life and Picasso’s art, all through dialog. Highly recommended.

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