From a young age, Françoise Gilot grew up with a paintbrush in hand; she had all the tools to blossom into the accomplished artist she is today. Her work has come in waves of naturalism and abstraction, with most falling somewhere in between. By drawing primarily from her memory, her works express the emotions she felt towards the individual at that time.

As a strong-willed, confident, and independent young woman, Gilot earned two degrees in English Literature and Philosophy before the age of twenty-one. She is known for her ten year long relationship with Pablo Picasso wherein her artwork took its first leap into the realm of abstraction. This relationship opened doors for her, allowing her to meet highly regarded European artistic icons from the previous generation. This helped to push her artwork to a new level of symbolization and simplification. Further, she had two of Picasso’s children and a third with her first husband, Luc Simon. As her largest inspirations in life began to grow, so did her artwork. She then went on to marry Jonas Salk, the inventor of the Polio vaccine, and seemed to enjoy a more fulfilling lifestyle than she was ever capable of prior to him.

At the start of her artistic career, age five, her mother only allowed her to use India ink, and to this day she attributes a lot to this small action; she had to live with her mistakes and grow around them. All of the works she’s created over the years have contained the essence of her emotions at certain points in time. In general, she draws inspiration from the memory of an experience rather than from reality itself, leaving a snapshot of her thoughts from that moment. By focusing on interpreting the individual, Gilot has created an impressive collection of truly intimate portraits.

Curated by interns Hadley Wiktor (Kutztown University) and Alexandra Koch (Kutztown University).


All Berman exhibitions are free and open to the public.