While The Art Gallery at the Rockefeller State Park Preserve prepared a historic exhibition of artist Françoise Gilot’s works of art, marking her exceptional career, her lifetime of accomplishments, and the celebration of her 101st birthday, preparations came to a halt upon receiving the news of her passing. Thus, a tribute will herald this extraordinary painter, printmaker, and memoirist at the Preserve Gallery.
Gilot, a true genius with great style, stated that she would only stop creating when she stopped breathing.
She was an accomplished artist when she met Picasso in Paris in 1943. Picasso was attracted by her charisma and talent. The two embarked on a decade-long relationship, creating new heights in their respective artistry as well as two children, Paloma and Claude. Due to Picasso’s infidelities, Gilot left.
In response, Picasso painted many portraits of her, although she began a life of her own with their children in Paris. Ten years later, Françoise documented their relationship in her memoir, Life with Picasso, revealing the highs and lows that caused a sensation and selling over a million copies. She also inspired the film Surviving Picasso. As a belated recognition of her art grew, a major exhibition, cocurated by Gilot, was staged at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City.
In 1955, she married artist Luc Simon, producing a daughter, Aurelia — a relationship that ended six years later. In 1970, she met and married Jonas Salk, a virologist, in California. They remained together until his death in 1995.
With resilience and creative curiosity, Françoise Gilot found through the labyrinth of her life a successful history that will inspire generations to come. The tribute to Gilot will be on view at The Art Gallery at the Rockefeller State Park Preserve from August through September 24.
— Audrey Leeds, Gallery Curator, and Kimberly Rockefeller, Guest Curator
Photos by PL Gould