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Life with Picasso Reviews

Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot, Carlton Lake

Life With Picasso

Francoise Gilot, Carlton Lake

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 15 Nov 1990
ISBN: 9781853812330

' Gilot is a superb witness to Picasso as an artist and to his views on art . . . This memoir is both a vivid portrait of a monstrously difficult man and a brilliant depiction of a great artist at work' New York Times

3 stars out of 5
19 Mar 2020

"these memories – whether true or not – belonged to her"

When Life with Picasso was first published, many reviewers felt it was exaggerated. Gilot was implausibly virtuous; Picasso’s monologues were implausibly long. It was wrong of Gilot to write about their sex life (even though it was evidently fine for Picasso to paint about it). There was too much tittle-tattle and not enough discussion of Picasso’s work or politics. He had brought Gilot fame and shaped her personality; in return she had impugned his generosity and disrespected his pottery by calling the clay he used ‘cheap’. In 1965 more than forty artists, including Miró and Félix Labisse, signed an open letter demanding that the book be banned. Picasso cut off all contact with Claude and Paloma, and took Gilot and Lake’s publisher, Calmann-Lévy, to court for presenting him as ‘sadistic, cruel, proud and double dealing’. But the book was found not to be defamatory: on the contrary, it revealed Picasso to be a man of ‘astonishing interior richness’ and contributed to his glory better than any official biography would have done. The court added that it would be difficult, impossible even, for Gilot to write about her life without some mention of Picasso. In any case, these memories – whether true or not – belonged to her.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
21 Jul 2019

"The reissued memoir of Picasso’s mistress is a captivating portrait of a tyrant"

My Life with Picasso is many impressive things, but most certainly it is not a revenge document or a Picasso-kicking or a #MeToo kiss and thrust. Mistaking it for any of those things would be plain wrong. From the first word to the last this is, above all, a love story. Painful, yes. Complex, yes. Doomed, yes. But still a love story... Gilot writes so well about the opening rounds of her Picasso time. She has an ear for a good anecdote and, as everyone who was anyone in global culture turned up at some point on the doorstep, her impressive powers of recall have a field day with the cast list... [T]he first three-quarters of the book offer a gripping mix of love, aesthetics and hilarious anecdotes. But then suddenly it darkens. Having persuaded Gilot to have children to fulfil herself as a woman, Picasso turns into the monster we have been expecting from the beginning.