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1980 - 1989

Françoise Gilot at work in her La Jolla Studio, 1980 (Photo: Tony Korody)

With renewed confidence, Gilot desires to paint on larger canvases in less traditional formats. She searches for a presentation that would allow more spontaneity and less formalism than oil painting. Thinking of the Kakemonos from Japan or the large tankas of Tibet, Gilot adapts a technique, reminiscent of the theatre backdrops she created in 1953, using acrylic on unstretched and unprimed cotton canvas and embarks on a new series of strong and joyous paintings. Heroic in scale and painted on both sides, these “floating paintings” are supported only by a wooden bar at the top, hanging away from the wall so they can move freely and take flight.

Gilot finds the vitality of the United States quite in harmony with her own. She has many supportive friends and her work continues to be very well received and collected. Emotionally energized by this warmth and positive acceptance, Gilot opts for dual citizenship by becoming an American citizen.

Feeling that color lithography was becoming mired in another cyclical period characterized by ambiguity as to what constitutes and original print, Gilot abandons the medium. After almost three decades of creating an impressive oeuvre of original prints and adding to her reputation as an inspired and memorable colorist, Gilot turns her interest and energies toward the exploration of monotypes, initially using an intaglio press at the Richard Royce Studios in New York.


A series of sketchbooks filled with jewel-like watercolors chronicle Gilot’s trip to Senegal with Dr. Salk.

Gilot purchases a large loft apartment at 260 Fifth Avenue and relocates her New York studio.

In May, Gilot exhibits her work at the Chattanooga Museum in Tennessee.


In March, Françoise Gilot, Emblems and Symbols, a well-curated exhibition of her recent canvases and floating paintings from the late 1970s and early 1980s, opens at the Palm Springs Desert Museum in California. Shortly after the opening, Gilot travels with Dr. Salk to Russia, visiting Moscow and Leningrad.

Gilot continues creating large, monumental floating paintings, in addition to many works on paper including watercolors, India ink drawings and a number of new monotypes.

Gilot participates in the group exhibition, Convergence, with fellow artists, Patricia Clark, Cornelia von Mengershausen and Priya Mookerjee. The exhibition travels to a number of venues throughout the United States.

Gilot receives a Doctorate of Fine Arts, Honoris Causa, from Hofstra University in New York.


The Press at California State University, in Fresno, California, publishes Interface: The Painter and the Mask. This is Gilot’s translation of her 1976 publication, Le Regard et son Masque.

Also during this year, The Limited Editions Club, New York, publishes Collette’s, Break of Day, in a limited edition of two thousand signed and number copies. In addition to her illustrations, this livre de luxe contains three original silk screens by Gilot, printed at Studio Heinrici, in New York, all bound with a blue silk, also designed by Gilot, which was realized by Ratti d’Como, in Italy.

Gilot exhibits her work at galleries in New York and Michigan.

Jonas Salk and Françoise Gilot, circa 1984

In February, Gilot and Dr. Salk return to India, traveling together to New Delhi and Madras. Gilot then leaves for Australia, via Singapore, for the International Writers Conference in Adelaide. On 10 March, she attends the opening of her first exhibition of floating paintings and lithographs at Allegro Gallery in Sydney.

During the year, Gilot has European exhibitions at the Herman Wunsche Gallery in Bonn, Germany, Gallery George Lavrov in Paris, and Maison Descartes in Amsterdam.

Joel Thome, a noted composer of new age music, asks Gilot to paint a large backdrop and to design costumes for a concert of his original music in the Guggenheim Museum Theater in New York. Gilot rents a temporary studio in New York and creates her largest floating painting - 15 feet by 30 feet – entitled, Dream Twilight. She completes the canvas in only fourteen days.


In March, Gilot attends the opening night of “Satyavan: Dream Twilight” - music composed by Joel Thome with costumes and backdrop designed by Françoise Gilot - at the Guggenheim Museum Theater in New York.

Françoise Gilot in India, 1984. Necklace designed and made by her daughter, Aurelia.
Gilot begins a longstanding and fruitful association with the respected printer, Judith Solodkin. In the 1970s, Solodkin had become the first woman master printer at the renowned Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles where Gilot had created lithographs. Solodkin was now the director of SOLO Press, which she founded in New York after leaving Tamarind. Gilot continues her exploration of the medium with renewed enthusiasm, often incorporating collages of Japanese papers and old engravings to enliven the surface textures of her monotypes.

Due to her mother’s failing health, Gilot spend the month of September with her in Paris.

Also in September, Gilot attends the opening of the Picasso Museum at the Hotel Sale in Paris with her children, Claude and Paloma.

In October, Françoise’s mother, Madeleine Gilot, dies in Paris. Gilot travels to Paris for the funeral and then returns to New York. Her mother’s death affects Françoise deeply; she is unable to paint for six months.

Gilot exhibits her work in Bonn, Germany, and at Mia Joosten Galleries in Amsterdam.


Gilot spends time in Paris, selling her family home in Neuilly and purchasing a new apartment/studio at 36 Avenue Junot, in Montmartre.

The beauty of nature in California is having noticeable impact on Gilot’s work. Even when back in New York, Gilot creates monotypes at SOLO Press on themes related to the rugged coastline and sun-washed seashore in California.

Having developed allergies to the paints and chemicals for their creation, Harvest Moon (1986) is Gilot’s final floating painting.

Cover of An Artist’s Journey, 1987

In April, Gilot has an exhibition of her work at the Musee du Palais des Papes in Avignon, France..

September 19: Françoise Gilot, An Artist’s Journey, an important retrospective of Gilot’s paintings and works on paper, opens at the Musee Picasso in Antibes, France.

In September, The Atlantic Monthly Press in New York publishes An Artist’s Journey. This most comprehensive book to date of Gilot’s oeuvre includes a preface by Daniele Giraudy, Director of the Musee Picasso in Antibes, France; an introduction and interview with Gilot by Barbara Haskell, Curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; and a text by Françoise Gilot

Gilot completes three important canvases - portraits of her childhood friend and muse, Geneviève – all inspired by a dream image from the early 1940s. She gives one of the paintings to her husband, Jonas, to watch over him during his recuperation from heart surgery.

During the year, Gilot’s work is exhibited in several galleries in California, including Robertson Gallery in Beverly Hills, and, in Amsterdam at Maison Descartes and the Mia Joosten Galleries.


With renewed enthusiasm and two new associates, David Cutler and Mel Yoakum, Gilot resumes work on the documentation of her archives of paintings and works on paper.

In February, Gilot has an important exhibition of her work at Hofstra University Museum in New York. Gilot’s work is also shown at the El Paso Museum of Art in Texas.

Gilot begins writing a manuscript for a book chronicling the friendship she observed between Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.

The Minister of Culture in France promotes Gilot to the rank of Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres.

Throughout the year, Gilot has exhibitions of her work at the galleries of her dealers in California, Arizona, Warsaw and Stockholm.


Gilot relocates her studio/apartment in New York to an historic building on west 67th Street originally built as studios for artists in 1901.

Her retrospective exhibition, which opened in 1987 at the Musee Picasso in Antibes, travels to the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, Kansas, in February; and then on to California, opening at The Monterey Museum of Art in May and at The Riverside Museum of Art in September. As is customary, Gilot gives a lecture about her work as a part of the opening night events.

In June, Gilot has an exhibition, not related to the retrospective, at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Art in Philadelphia.

Gilot works almost daily for over a month with Judith Solodkin at SOLO Press in New York creating intriguing monotypes with collage, several of them heralding the emergence of a newWanderer theme” in her work.

Later in the year, Mia Joosten, presents an exhibition of Gilot’s recent work at her gallery in Amsterdam.

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