Leaving a Legacy: 1991 to 2023


“I am not going to make a big deal of being more than what I am. Or less.”

Françoise Gilot, in The New York Times, 2022

Exhibition at the Berman Museum of Art

Françoise Gilot first visited Ursinus College in 1991 with Dr. Jonas Salk, who was speaking at that year’s Founder’s Day Convocation. The Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus, founded by her longtime friends Philip and Muriel Berman, had opened to the public two years prior in 1989.

During Gilot’s visit, the museum’s founding director, Lisa Tremper Hanover, proposed an exhibition of her work at the museum. In 1993, Gilot returned to Ursinus College with her curator and archivist Mel Yoakum, PhD, to discuss the details of the exhibition and corresponding publication. And in 1995, the museum opened the exhibition Stone Echoes: Original Prints by Françoise Gilotand published a catalogue raisonné of the same name. This was the first retrospective and comprehensive exhibition of Gilot’s lithographs and etchings. It was a highly successful venture for the artist, Yoakum, and the museum alike.

Upon witnessing the success of Stone Echoes , Gilot donated a large selection of her original prints to the Berman Museum of Art. Yoakum and the Bermans donated several of their Gilot prints and drawings during this time, along with collectors who had lent their pieces to the exhibition.

Later Life

In June of 1995, Salk passed away just six days before his and Gilot’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Grieving, Gilot abruptly moved out of their shared home and could not paint for about six months. She found solace in traveling with her children and grandchildren. When she picked up the brush again, she created several abstract landscapes inspired by the trips.

As in many other times in her life, art became a way for her to heal. This emotional journey is evident in her expansion of The Wanderer series and her return to the mythology motif in the late 1990s.

Gilot’s career in the early 2000s was marked by sold-out lectures, several newspaper and television interviews, and more successful publications. Notably, the four-hundred-page Françoise Gilot: Monograph, 1940-2000, written by Mel Yoakum, Ph.D., was published in 2000, which received great acclaim. She was celebrated in exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe, and she attended many of the openings with her family.

Despite entering her eighties in 2001, Gilot never considered retiring. She continued creating, primarily working with oils before reuniting with Judith Solodkin in 2009 to make new monotypes. These works were featured in her second monograph, Françoise Gilot: Works 1984–2010, which was published in 2011.

Gilot spent the end of her life in New York working and indulging journalists’ requests for interviews. The great painter, printmaker, and writer lived to be 101, passing away on June 6, 2023.


Locus of Study

Gilot’s relationship with the Berman Museum of Art continued well after the passing of Philip and Muriel in 1997 and 2004, respectively. She received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Ursinus College in 2001. In 2008, she made a substantial gift of works on paper to support the Works on Paper Study Room expansion at the Berman Museum.

Today, the Berman is an international center for the study of Gilot’s works. In addition to her personal archives, the museum houses over 270 works of art by the artist, including the most comprehensive collection of lithographs and etchings in the world outside of the artist’s own holdings.

The Berman has mounted several exhibitions of Gilot’s work since Stone Echoes , including For Ever and a Day: Floating Paintings and Monotypes (1997); Françoise Gilot: 1940-1950 (2001); Transitions: Works by Françoise Gilot , which traveled to several other institutions in 2012; Francoise Gilot: Her Journey Through Portraiture (2020); and Françoise Gilot: Shaping Freedom through Abstraction (2024) .

To honor its history and close ties with the artist, the Berman has digitized its Françoise Gilot Archival Collection, donated by Mel Yoakum, PhD in 2020, and the Gilot holdings in its permanent collection. The increased access to these collections will ensure the celebration of her work for years to come and cement her legacy in the art canon.

View the complete collection.



  • La Ferla, Ruth. “Françoise Gilot: ‘It Girl’ at 100.” The New York Times, 19 Jan. 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/19/style/francoise-gilot-it-girl.html
  • Vierny, Dina and Mel Yoakum. Françoise Gilot: Monograph, 1940–2000. Sylvio Acatos, 2000.
  • Yoakum, Mel. “Biography.” The Françoise Gilot Archives. http://www.francoisegilot.com/frames.html. Accessed 25 March 2024.
  • —-. For Ever and a Day: Floating Paintings and Monotypes by Françoise Gilot. Exhibition catalogue. The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, 1997.
  • —-. Stone Echoes: A Catalogue Raisonné. The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, 1995.

Works from the Gilot Collection