Saturday 10 June 2023

Françoise Gilot

 I have only just heard that Françoise Gilot, a talented artist and remarkable woman doomed forever to be most famous for her relationship with Pablo Picasso, died the other day, at the magnificent age of 101. A graduate of Cambridge (Eng. Lit.) and the Sorbonne (Philosophy), she was already an accomplished painter and ceramicist when she had the misfortune to meet Picasso in 1943, when she was 21 and he 40 years older. He promptly dumped his current lover and muse, Dora Maar (the photographer), and soon he and Françoise were living together. They never married (Picasso was still legally married to Olga Khokhovla anyway), and in the course of their ten-year relationship, Françoise bore him two children, Claude and Paloma, believing Picasso's promises to love and care for them always. After she left him, having had enough of his tyrannical ways – the only woman ever to have left him, according to Picasso – he tried to stop galleries from buying her work, and did everything he could to block publication of her memoir, Life with Picasso. When it finally came out, in 1964, and became a huge bestseller, Picasso refused ever again to see Claude or Paloma. What a delightful little man he was.