Saturday, June 18, 2011

Françoise Gilot, update on the electrician who claimed his Picasso's were gifts.

Françoise Gilot was one of Picasso's many significant others and a painter in her own right. Unfortunately, she is not heavily featured at the current Picasso Exhibit at the de Young. Maybe because she left him, instead of being discarded by him, the show largely edits her out of Picasso's history. I don't remember seen any of the beautiful paintings that he made of her and I don't think she's featured in the drawings or etchings either.

Spiteful male ego, much?

Yet, she was one of his more signifiant "significant" others. She was only in her early 20's when she met Picasso but had already exhibited great talent. In 1946, Gilot and Picasso began a decade-long relationship as she became both a witness and a participant in one of the last great periods of the modern art movement in Europe.

Their circle included poets, philosophers, writers, and many legends of the art world, such as Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Jean Cocteau, and Henri Matisse. This artistic union was also shared with their two children, Claude and Paloma, whose antics and acrobatic postures were often captured in drawings and paintings.

By late 1953, the relationship with Picasso had run its course and Gilot left the home they shared in Vallauris and returned to Paris with their children. During the 1950s and 1960s, Gilot continued the trajectory of her artistic explorations with studios in London, Paris and  the south of France.

The current show at the Oceanside focuses on her work "after Picasso." Again, unlike many of his women, she thrived away from him. I don't know what it was about life with Picasso but he had a lethal influence on many women in his life. His first wife, Olga, suffered numerous breakdowns and two other wome (Marie Therese and his last wife Jacqueline) committed suicide.

In 1969, during an exhibition of her work in Los Angeles, Gilot traveled to La Jolla and was introduced to Dr. Jonas Salk. The kinship was immediate and they were married in Paris in June of 1970.  Their  25-year marriage was truly the merging of science and art.

"The theme of this exhibition explores the transitions in Gilot’s life and work that formed her artistic voice. Relying on structures, rhythms and color, Gilot often challenges the boundaries between figuration and abstraction by evoking rather than describing, to heighten the surface tension of the canvas and to entice and engage the imagination of the viewer. Featuring over 40 works of art,  including oil paintings, watercolors, gouaches, monotypes and original prints, this exhibition will explore the evolution of Gilot’s unique abstract, symbolist style from the early 1960s to her more current work." (all images @ Françoise Gilot)

This just in (I'm not surprised at the reaction of the Picasso family. For all that I've heard they are possessive and predatory. At least one of the commentators on this new item admits that it's the electrician word against the Picasso family - which has a vested interest in grabbing back any and all items that they can :

Pierre Le Guennec, who installed alarm systems for Picasso in the last years of the Spanish painter's life, said the 271 pieces, which included collages, gouaches and lithographs, were gifts. French authorities, however, were not convinced, and have indicted Le Guennec and his wife Danielle for "concealing," France's classification for possession of stolen property.

Picasso's son Claude, who doubts Le Guennec's claims, has said that the couple's story does not match up with his father's usual gift-giving practices. Despite being extremely prolific, Picasso was not known to give away unsigned or undated works like the ones in Le Guennec's collection. Moreover, investigators say the works may have come from one of Picasso's other residences, in which Le Guennec had not worked.

More links
Picasso: Masterpieces From the Musée National Picasso

OMG! It's Picasso. SF Citizen

When Gertrude Met Picasso


A Cuban In London said...

It's funny because the name Gilot rings many bells and yet not in relation to Picasso's art but to his private life. Excellent post. I've always had my doubts about the painter. I like some of his works but ever since I found out that his cubism was 'broadlight robbery' from traditional African art I've been less enthused to embrace his painting wholeheartedly.

Greetings from London.

namastenancy said...

That's an excellent point. I think I'll do a post with his work and that of the African art that he copied. In fact, most of the artists in Paris were seriously looking at African art; the influence of that has always been underestimated. The other thing that made me furious about the current show at the de Young is that they completely left out Matisse who was a very big influence on Picasso.