Early Years - 1940s - 1950s - 1960s - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s - 2000s

1970 - 1979

Françoise Gilot with Jonas Salk at their wedding in the family garden, Neuilly, Paris, 1970 (Photo: Michel Ginfray, Apis-Paris)

Françoise travels to California for the Easter holidays and meets with Jonas in Los Angeles, where he presents his marriage proposal. Gilot returns to Paris.

In May, Gilot and a group of friends sail in the Aegean Sea. Dr. Salk is waiting for her in Paris when she returns.

June 29: Françoise Gilot and Dr. Jonas Salk are married in the City Hall of Neuilly. In addition to Gilot’s family, Jonas’ three adult sons, Peter, Darrell and Jonathan, attend the wedding.

With no time for a honeymoon, Gilot remains in Paris to make the necessary arrangement for relocating to La Jolla. Owing to the care of her mother and Paloma, Gilot plans to work six months in her Paris studio and six months in California.

In August, Gilot shifts her primary residence, settling into Dr. Salk’s home in La Jolla, not far from The Salk Institute. Her daughter, Aurelia, enrolls in a private school in La Jolla. Without a studio, she works at home, creating mostly works on paper.

Back in Paris in November, Gilot creates additional color lithographs at The Mourlot Atelier, now located at 43 rue Barrault.

During the year, Gilot has her first museum exhibitions in Southampton, New York and in Jacksonville, Florida.


Gilot continues to travel throughout the United States and Europe for exhibitions and lectures, spending a total of six months in the spring and fall at her studios in France, and six months, usually during the winter and summer, at her home in La Jolla, California.

With the relocation to California, Gilot’s canvases evolve to be composed primarily of flat planes of color creating surface tensions through the juxtaposition of complementary tones to express a third dimension. Also, owing to the quality of light and shadow she experiences there, Gilot’s technique becomes less reliant upon a build-up of impasto – her forms more precisely contoured and the surface more smoothly brushed. She begins to rely more on the use of a palette knife while becoming even more intrigued with what she can do with color. Strong cadmium red becomes more pervasive in her compositions and, through its dominance, expands the presence of the painting.

Françoise Gilot creating a lithograph at the Tamstone Group Workshop, 1971
During the summer months, Gilot and Salk sail in the Aegean Sea among the Greek Islands.

Gilot continues to create lithographs in July and December at the Mourlot Atelier, in Paris, and in October with The Tamstone Group in Los Angeles.

Early in October, Gilot travels to Michigan to attend the opening of an exhibition of her paintings, gouaches, lithographs and drawings in The Hackley Art Gallery at the Muskegon Museum of Art.

At the suggestion of her husband, Dr. Salk, Gilot begins photographing and documenting her work to create archives of her oils, works on paper, and original prints.


In March, “Bestiaire Magique de Françoise Gilot” opens at La Galerie de la Chouette on rue de l’Abbaye in Paris.

Having harbored the idea since the early 1950s, Gilot realizes her dream to create a livre de luxe of her own poetry accompanied by her own color lithographs. For Sur la Pierre (On the Stone), she creates 12 lithographs, each printed in four colors at Mourlot Atelier in Paris, publishing them with 23 of her own original poems, some in French, printed by L’Imprimerie Union in Paris. The entire edition sells out almost immediately.

Gilot decides to sell La Galloise, the home in Vallauris she shared with Picasso during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Feeling that the traditional rectangular format of the canvas is too limiting, Gilot begins to create circular and oval paintings as stylized mandalas.

During the year, Gilot has a number of exhibitions in Michigan, Louisiana and in California, including an important showing of the Midsummer Night’s Dream series of works on paper at the Dalzell Hatfield Gallery in Los Angeles.


Gilot begins to structure her canvases with a sense of pioneering spirit - vibrant, resonating color in heroic proportions. Gilot’s interest in movement and the interaction of acrobatic forms leads her to the theme of the circus and active compositions with unexpected colorations reflecting the daring of acrobats and other circus performers. Gilot completes a number of oils and works on paper exploring this theme over the next two years.

April 8: Pablo Picasso dies at his villa in Mougins, near Cannes. His widow, Jacqueline, bars Claude and Paloma, along with most members of his family, from attending the funeral. Having never written a will – always fearing the preparation of such documents actually hastens death - his estate will take a decade to settle.

Gilot establishes a new studio in Sorrento Valley, California, not far from the home she shares with Dr. Salk in La Jolla.

In the spring, Gilot is appointed Art Director of Virginia Woolf Quarterly. Published in San Diego, California and devoted to studying and documenting the works of Virginia Woolf. Gilot remains with the magazine until it ceases publication in 1977.

Gilot’s work is shown in Texas, Michigan and North Carolina with both museum and gallery exhibitions.


In early April, Gilot returns to the Mourlot Atelier and creates a number of color lithographs, several of them commissioned by Philip and Muriel Berman, important collectors of her work in the United States.

In June, Gilot travels with her husband, her mother and her daughter, Aurelia, to Venice, Italy, for an important exhibition of her oils, drawings and original prints at Galleria Santo Stefano.

Gilot exhibits her work at Yares Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Cover of Le Regard et Son Masque (The Painter and the Mask), 1975, with a portrait of Françoise Gilot by Endre Rozsda.

In February, Clinton Adams, founder and director of the Tamarind Institute in New Mexico, invites Gilot to come to the new Institute at the University of Albuquerque and create lithographs as a guest artist. Working with the master printers there, she begins to incorporate a blended inking technique, further enriching her oeuvre of original prints. She returns again in April to continue her work.

Throughout the year, Gilot travels between her homes in Paris and California, often stopping in New York where she and her husband stay with friends.

In Paris, Calmann-Lévy, publishes Gilot’s second important book, Le regard et son Masque (The Painter and the Mask), which focuses on her own development as an artist. A deluxe edition limited to 86 numbered copies, each containing an original drawing by Gilot on japan nacré, is also issued for collectors.

In April, as a gift to her mother, Paloma Picasso publishes Paloma-Sphinx, the retelling a fable Gilot created for her children in 1952 and illustrated with her own drawings. The book is printed in Paris by L’Imprimerie Union and limited to 300 numbered copies in English and 300 numbered copies in French.

Gilot exhibits her work for the last time at Galerie Coard in Paris. There are also exhibitions of her work at Vincent Mann Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana and Galeria El Mascherone in Florence, Italy.


Gilot is appointed as Chairperson, Department of Fine Arts, University of Southern California, The Isomata Program, in Idyllwild, California. She remains in this position, teaching each summer at the Idyllwild campus, until 1983.

Working with Graphicenter in San Diego, Gilot returns to intaglio printmaking, exploring new technical procedures with color aquatint. She also continues to create color lithographs at the Mourlot Atelier in Paris.

Aeolian Press in San Diego, California publishes The Fugitive Eye, Gilot second book of original poems, which she illustrates with early drawings of Geneviève from the 1940s.

Gilot exhibits her work at galleries in California, Arizona and Switzerland.

In late December, Gilot makes her first trip to India with her husband, Dr. Salk, where he receives the Nehru Award for International Understanding. They remain in India for about a month.


Returning to The Tamarind Institute in early spring, Gilot creates a number of new color lithographs.

In March, The Museum of Albuquerque in New Mexico, organizes an exhibition of Gilot’s work including her recent lithographs created at The Tamarind Institute.

July 11: Gilot accompanies Dr. Salk to Washington D.C. when he is presented the Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.

Françoise Gilot and Jonas Salk, 1978
Françoise’s mother, Madeleine Gilot, travels to La Jolla to visit. Endre Rozsda also visits during the year and Rozsda and Gilot exhibit their work together at a small gallery in La Jolla.

Gilot has exhibitions of her recent paintings, watercolors and lithographs at Vincent Mann Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana; Galeria Racana in Palm Springs, California; and Prince Arthur Gallery in Toronto, Ontario.


Gilot designs a new signature monogram - a kind of circular chop mark – that she begins to use to sign many of her canvases. Adding her signature to a painting has always been a problem for Gilot. In her earlier years as a painter, Gilot was not eager to sign her work. She felt that a signature, however small and peripheral, introduces additional forms and colors, and disrupts the rhythms she had established so carefully in the composition. Gilot often adds her signature at a later time to meet the requirements of an exhibition or of a collector, although sometimes paintings remain unsigned.

Gilot begins the “Autobiographical Series” of paintings – heroic canvases evoking abstractions and emblematic recollections of various childhood experiences. However, since the completion of a canvas depicting her childhood memories of snow still eludes Gilot, the series remains unfinished.

In France, Françoise Gilot is awarded L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, with the rank of Officier, by the Minister of Culture.


Gilot makes a second trip to India with her husband, Dr. Salk. Elements inspired by her recollections of the climatic, the colors, and the mythology will begin to appear in Gilot’s canvases the following year.

Gilot establishes her first studio in New York, renting an apartment at 27 West 57th Street.

In October, “Françoise Gilot: A Retrospective 1943-1978”, which includes a thoroughly researched and well illustrated exhibition catalogue by Susan Barnes Robinson, opens at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

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Early Years - 1940s - 1950s - 1960s - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s - 2000s