By TONY EVANS
For the Express
In 1943, a young painter in southern France was introduced to Pablo Picasso and began a 12-year relationship with the painter, bearing him two children, Paloma and Claude. Her name is Francoise Gilot and, after a thriving 60-year career as an artist in her own right, she will participate as a speaker at the Sun Valley Gallery Association's 25th anniversary celebration, the Visual Arts Forum, this month.
Her access to many of the masters of Classical Modernism throughout her life, as well as her wisdom with regard to art making in general, will provide an intriguing perspective on 20th century art. Several of Gilot's paintings will be on exhibit during the evening get together at the nextStage Theater on Friday, June 23.
Sun Valley Gallery Association president, Frederic Boloix, spoke with Madame Gilot in anticipation of her visit and expects an informative and lively evening.
"She lived during an incredible time in history and knew many of the masters of Classical Modernism, including Mattisse, Chagal, Giacommetti and Braque. Her time with Picasso spanned 12 years and was a relatively short period of her life as an artist," he said. "She was also the only woman who ever left Picasso, so he will probably never forgiver her for that."
Born in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, France in 1921, Francoise Gilot received a degree in English Literature at Cambridge University and studied law in Paris before attending L' Ecole des Beaux Arts during World War II, where she studied under Professor Jean Souverbie.
She has received numerous honorary degrees for her work in the arts including the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and Officier dans l'Order des Arts et Lettres from the Cultural Ministry in France and an honorary Doctorate in the Arts from Hofstra University in New York. Her paintings have shown in museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. She has written and illustrated many books including her memoir, "Life With Picasso," which was made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins.
"Her memoir 'Life with Picasso' presents an amazing point of view on the life and work of Picasso because it was written with true objectivity," says Boloix, who specializes in the sales of Picasso, Matisse and other Modern masters at his Ketchum Gallery, Frederic Boloix Fine Arts.
"Although the influence of Picasso was large in her life, I believe a bigger influence was Matisse. I see her as a French painter rather than a Spanish one. Picasso's famous statement that 'Art is a weapon' differs from the French tendency to focus on beauty and visual splendor."
Gilot lived with Picasso, playing the muse and model for over a decade, as well as the mother to his children, all stemming from a chance meeting along with a girlfriend at a French café. She recalls the moment in "Life with Picasso:"
"Meeting me with Geneviere, he saw a 'them' that runs through his entire work...two women together, one fair, the other dark, the one all curves and the other externalizing her internal conflicts...he saw in Genevieve a version of formal perfection, and in me, who lacked that formal perfection, a quality of unquiet which was actually an echo of his own nature...he even said: 'I'm meeting beings I painted twenty years ago.'"
Visual Arts Forum & Saturday morning Gallery Walk
"The Sun Valley Gallery Association has come a long way in 25 years," said Barbi Reed of the Anne Reed Gallery. "As an original member, I would never have imagined that the galleries, as well as the art scene, would have matured enough to be able to attract someone as world renown and exceptional as artist Francoise Gilot."
Friday, June 23: The Sun Valley Visual Arts Forum, 6-8 p.m., nexStage Theatre, Ketchum. Entrepreneur/art collector Steve Wynn discusses the passion behind his collecting and introduces Francoise Gilot, acclaimed artist/author ("Life with Picasso") at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at the door, but pre-registration is encouraged. Visit svgalleries.org or call 726-8180. Reserved seating, including open bar, $35. General seating, $15.
GALLERY WALK—Saturday, June 24: The Sun Valley Gallery Association galleries host an open house, taking the format of the regular Gallery Walks, from 9 a.m. - noon.
Barbara Guggenheim speaks at 2 p.m., "How to be Smart: Money and Art" at the nexStage Theatre. The talk is free and open to all.
"We decided to create a special event that would be of regional and national interest for our anniversary," said Gallery DeNovo's Robin Reiners. "This is a way to give back to the community. The event may someday include all the arts in the valley by featuring visual arts the first year, performing arts the next and so on. For now, the Association will put on the forum every other year."