Françoise Gilot turns 100: painter and Picasso rebel – dpa

Paris (AP) – A woman, next to a girl and a boy who is writing the word freedom on a school blackboard. Françoise Gilot painted the painting in 1952, and a year later she left Picasso, the father of her two children Claude and Paloma, who are shown in the picture.

The work can currently be seen in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence near Avignon – together with around 50 other works by the artist, who will be 100 years old on Friday (November 26th).

“Les années françaises” (Eng. “Years in France”) is the name of the exhibition at the Musée Estrine, which aims to be something like a rehabilitation of the artist. Because Gilot was ignored and disregarded as a painter after her separation from Picasso and especially after the publication of her book «Life with Picasso» in France in 1965, as Gilot’s biographer Annie Maïllis says in several interviews. Gilot now lives in New York, where a retrospective was dedicated to her in 1970 at the Southampton Museum of Art.

Legal space not yet received

The exhibition in southern France, which lasts until December 23, shows works that were created between 1939 and 1970, when she settled permanently in the USA. This is a reminder that Gilot is a French woman whose homeland is still struggling to give her her rightful place, as can be read on the website of the southern French city.

She is the only companion of Picasso who has left him – everyone else has gone crazy or committed suicide, Maïllis said on radio station France Info, among others. Together with Sylvie Blum, she produced the Arte documentary, which was released in June «Pablo Picasso & Françoise Gilot – The Woman Who Says No »shot.

Saying no was tantamount to an insult to majesty, said the literary scholar. Picasso is said to have once said that you don’t leave a man like him. Two of his numerous wives, Marie-Thérèse Walter and Jacqueline Roque, committed suicide. Olga Chochlowa and Dora Maar became depressed.

Legal warfare over her book

Picasso wanted to have the book banned, in which Gilot wrote about her everyday life and a capricious Picasso who made life difficult for those who shared it with him. But the work became a bestseller, accompanied by a legal war. In April 1965, the weekly literary newspaper “Les Lettres françaises” even launched a petition to ban publication. Picasso therefore broke off contact with the two children. He is also said to have threatened the Paris galleries that they would never get a picture of him again if they exhibited Gilot’s works.

She was around forty years younger than him when the two met in 1943. For Gilot, the first three years with Picasso were the best, because you only saw each other twice a month, said the painter for the weekly newspaper “Paris Match”. When Picasso turned 70, however, her youth became unbearable to him and she, too, had changed.

Fought for freedom

In the conversation she described him as decisive and dominant. She wanted her freedom, which she had only conquered by leaving her parents, she said in the interview. She resisted him.

Gilot was born on November 26, 1921 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a bourgeois suburb west of Paris. Her mother was a talented watercolor painter. Her father, a successful and authoritarian businessman, wanted her to study law. To escape the pressure of her parents’ home, she moved to her grandmother in 1938, where she set up a studio. In May 1943 she organized her first exhibition.

After the separation, Gilot went to the USA, where she had numerous collectors. There she married Jonas Salk, the discoverer of the polio vaccine against polio, in 1970. Today her works can be found in the collections of American, Japanese and German museums, among others. Only in June was her oil painting “Paloma à la Guitare” auctioned in London for over one million euros.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 211124-99-129190 / 2

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