Françoise Gilot, now 96, is best known for the decade she spent as girlfriend and muse to Pablo Picasso, with whom she had two children. But she is also an accomplished artist in her own right, often making work that tiptoes between abstraction and figuration. Now, Gilot has released a new facsimile edition of three of her sketchbooks, created between 1974 and 1981.
Each book covers a different trip—to Venice, India, and Senegal—that she took with her second husband, Jonas Salk, who discovered the polio vaccine. Published by Taschen, the hardcover sketchbooks come in a fold-out box set that also includes a conversation with Gilot. A special edition of 60 copies will come with a signed lithograph by the artist.
Gilot considers the sketchbooks’ watercolor drawings, often made during bumpy plane rides, unfinished, but intentionally so. She often included text in her illustrations—also a writer, Gilot published her memoir, Life With Picasso, in 1964.
“If you can think of something in words, then you can see it in images too,” she told the New York Times. “You can call it a diary.”
Each of the three new books offers an atmospheric sense of place. In Venice, which she visited in the summer of 1974, Gilot captures not only the city’s picturesque canals and cafes but also its rich collection of Renaissance art, depicting works by the likes of Veronese, Titian, and Tintoretto.
Gilot’s Indian sketchbook, made in late 1979, is mostly done in black and white, capturing the hustle and bustle of city streets, with a particular focus on women at work, dressed in beautiful saris even as they carry heavy loads. This interest in the local women carries over to Gilot’s Senegal sketchbook, done in 1981. With pictures in bold colors as well as black-and-white line drawings, Gilot also captures the rich vegetation of the landscape in images that sometimes verge on the abstract.
See more photos from the book below.
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