Picasso’s Muse

Françoise Gilot
One of France’s most celebrated artists and wife of the late Jonas Salk, Françoise Gilot will always be known as Picasso’s muse. Probably the most well known image of the artist and his muse is the above photo taken by Robert Capa in 1951.

When she was a 21 year old art student, Françoise began her relationship with Picasso, who was 61 years old. At the time, Pablo was married, and in another relationship with his mistress, Dora Maar.

During the seven years she was with Picasso, Françoise’s work was influenced, not only by Pablo, but also by Henri Matisse, Georges Braque and Jean Cocteau.

In 1969, while on a visit to La Jolla, CA, the artist was given a personal tour of the Salk Institute by it’s founder.

In an interview with talk show host, Charlie Rose, Gilot said at first, she wanted nothing to do with the scientist. What could an artist possibly have in common with a researcher? A lot, she would find out — and lucky for Gilot, Salk’s natural curiosity fed his desire to get to know the quiet French woman he had met days earlier over lunch. His persistence would lead to a cross-Atlantic courtship and their eventual marriage of 25 years.

Although she now lives in New York, Gilot remains close to the Salk Institute as an active member of the International Council and honorary chair of Symphony at Salk. The institute sits on a bluff overlooking a commanding view of the Pacific. Concerts (as well as weddings) take place on the plaza.

The artist continues her work and remains active in the art scene throughout Europe and the US. You can see some of Gilot’s work here.

On a French note, enjoy April in Paris by the Count Basie Orchestra: