Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Life with Picasso
by Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake
Françoise Gilot was in her early twenties when she met the sixty-one-year-old Pablo Picasso in 1943. Brought up in a well-to-do upper-middle-class family, who had sent her to Cambridge and the Sorbonne and hoped that she would go into law, the young woman defied their wishes and set her sights on being an artist. Her introduction to Picasso led to a friendship, a love affair, and a relationship of ten years, during which Gilot gave birth to Picasso’s two children, Paloma and Claude. Gilot was one of Picasso’s muses; she was also very much her own woman, determined to make herself into the remarkable painter she did indeed become.
Life with Picasso, written with Carlton Lake and published in 1961, is about Picasso the artist and Picasso the man. We hear him talking about painting and sculpture, his life, his career, as well as other artists, both contemporaries and old masters. We glimpse Picasso in his many and volatile moods, dismissing his work, exultant over his work, entertaining his various superstitions, being an anxious father. We also get a larger picture of literary and artistic Paris, including sketches of Matisse, Stein, Éluard, Gide, Cocteau, Miró, and Chaplin, along with an inside view of the workings of Picasso’s house and studio, meeting his right-hand man, Sabartés, his chauffeur, Marcel, and his housekeeper, Inès. We witness Picasso tangling with dealers and, under the German occupation, the Nazi official who, after Hitler’s denunciation, were given the task of suppressing Picasso’s work—and somehow always came up short.
Life with Picasso is not only a portrait of a great artist at the height of his fame; it is also a picture of a talented young woman of exacting intelligence at the outset of her own notable career.
[A] completely fascinating volume, one of the most illuminating we have had on the mind and spirit of Picasso, and certainly one of the best portraits this reviewer has read on the combination of genius and monster....
—Irving Stone, Los Angeles Times
Françoise Gilot’s gift of total recall seems scarcely human, but in her account of the ten years she spent with Picasso...everything he said to her about his work rings true even in English.
—Robert Melville, New Statesman
Fascinating and brilliant, and crucial to the understanding of Picasso.
—John Richardson, author of A Life of Picasso
A valuable interior view of a genius on the hearth.
Although there is much anguish to be found...there are also moments of tenderness and elation, forming what must be one of the most agonizingly honest and one of the most touching accounts of the life of a painter in the history of art.
—Jean Boggs, The Art Bulletin
What it is like actually to live with the most publicized artist in history—as chauffeur, secretary, pupil, companion, mother, lover, and ex-lover—is now told for the first time.
—Selden Rodman, Saturday Review
The portrait of Picasso that emerges...has a monumentality, a richness and diversity and intensity of being that could have been captured only by a woman of uncommon gifts.
—Paul Pickrel, Harper’s Magazine
She is a superb witness to Picasso as an artist and to his views on art.... Picasso’s intentions, his way of working and his fearless invention are brilliantly revealed.
—Aline Saarinen, The New York Times Book Review
Astonishing, crowded, intimate...a biographer of true Boswellian blood...a convincing portrait, painted with knowledge that comes only from absolute intimacy, of a fascinating monster, a geyser of energy, a complex character.... We are shown pictures of Malraux, Cocteau, Matisse, Hemingway...Gertrude Stein, Braque, Paul Éluard, Giacometti, Gide, Aragon, Chagall, Leger, Chaplin.... The reader feels that he is in Picasso’s studio, and at times even in Picasso’s mind.
—Clifton Fadiman, Book-of-the-Month Club News
[The] world owes Miss Gilot a tremendous debt, as well as a salute for what can only be described as a sensational ability to report and comprehend.
—Emily Genauer, New York Herald Tribune