Françoise Gilot was one of the most respected artists of the emerging School of Paris, a movement struggling for recognition during the years of The Occupation. In 1943, during the time of her first important exhibition in Paris, Françoise met Pablo Picasso, an artist 40 years her senior. Gilot and Picasso began a decade-long relationship and is the mother of his children, Claude and Paloma. She later married the American vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk.
Gilot became both a witness and a participant in one of the last great periods of the modern art movement in Europe. Her circle included poets, philosophers, writers, and many of the legends of the art world, such as Braque, Chagall, Cocteau, and Matisse.
Although Picasso had influenced Françoise Gilot's work as a cubist painter, she developed her own style. She avoided the sharp edges and angular forms that Picasso sometimes used. Instead, she used organic figures. During the war, Gilot's father attempted to save the most valuable household belongings by moving them, but the truck was bombed by the Germans, leading to the loss of Gilot's drawings and watercolors.
After nearly 70 years as an artist, Françoise Gilot continues to conquer canvas with her own language of form and color. Her work, done in a variety of media, holds a vital place in the international art world and represents one of the most exciting collecting opportunities in contemporary art today. As of April 2002, Gilot lives in New York City and Paris, working on behalf of the Salk Institute in California, and continues to exhibit her work internationally. She exhibited as recently as May 2012 at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City, and the Vincent Mann Gallery in May 2011 & 2015, in New Orleans.
Gilot is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée Picasso in Antibes, Musée de Tel Aviv in Israel, the Women's Museum in Washington D.C., and Bibliothèque Nationale and Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris. In 1990 she received the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, for her work as a painter, writer and feminist. In 2010 she was made an Officer of the Legion d'Honneur, the French government's highest honor of the arts.