Picasso Museum Is Showing Francoise Gilot’s Work, Finally

The late French artist Françoise Gilot, widely recognized for her painting practice and for walking out on Pablo Picasso, now has an exhibition dedicated to her practice at the Musée Picasso in Paris. According to a spokesperson, the temporary display consists of nine works on loan as part of the museum’s reopening and restaging of nearly 400 works in its collections.

Gilot’s 80-year practice emphasized abstracted figuration, still lifes, and landscapes with special attention to experimental compositions as well as arbitrary color and scale. In a press interview regarding the new display, Musée Picasso President Cécile Debray noted that Gilot was at last “being given her rightful place as an artist” at the Parisian institution through this special exhibition of her work.

When Gilot left her 10-year relationship with Picasso, he waged war on her career, destroying her artwork and belongings, socially isolating her, and calling upon his network to blacklist her throughout France. Gilot, however, remained steadfast in her artistry and extricated her personal narrative from the decade spent with Picasso by moving overseas.

Prior to her departure from France, she published the revealing memoir Life with Picasso in 1964, which her former partner attempted to ban the production of on three separate occasions, and insisted on leaving that chapter of her life behind afterwards. Gilot found immense success during the 1970s in North America, displaying her work in galleries and museums alike and becoming the chair of the University of Southern California’s art department. Her first major retrospective was at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in 1979, soon followed by another solo retrospective at the Musée Picasso in Antibes, France, in 1987.

Gilot lived in New York City from 1995 onwards and painted up until her death in June 2023. In spite of her hardships and misplaced recognition as a muse instead of an artist of her own right, she forged a path of success as an individual who refused to let anyone else define her.

Gilot’s exhibition is expected to remain onsite at the Musée Picasso for at least a year.

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