I imagine everyone has at least 3 books that they love so much, that they re-read them over and over again. I’m currently doing this with one of my favorites, “My Life with Picasso” written by Francoise Gilot in 1964. Francoise is not only a good artist but obviously a gifted writer as the book is interesting and so well written.
I always crave an opportunity to get inside the mind and habits of great artists of all mediums and Francoise manages to relate the information in a way that holds your attention easily. She met Picasso in France when she was 21 and he was 61 and although the age gap was considerable, I really believe it doesn’t make much difference if you connect strongly with someone. He invited her and a friend around to discuss art, which basically meant he wanted to show her his etchings – it was always purely romantic in nature as he was quite drawn to her. After their first visit Picasso said something I thought was cool…..
“If you want to come back again, by all means come. But if you do come, don’t come like pilgrims to Mecca. Come because you find my company interesting and because you want to have a simple, direct relationship with me. If you only want to see my paintings, you’d do just as well to go to a museum.”
Francoise eventually began coming around by herself and when he finally made a move by kissing her, he was greatly taken aback by her lack of reaction. Apparently she was too blasé in response. When he questioned her, asking why, she replied that she felt very much at ease with him and saw no reason for setting up in advance any limits to their relationship. His answer was completely amusing to me: “How do you expect me to seduce anyone under conditions like that? If you’re not going to resist- well then it’s out of the question.”
You really don’t have to love and appreciate Picasso as an artist to get a kick out of a memoir written by the great artist’s only formidable opponent….I mean love interest.
Photo of Picasso & Francoise at La Galloise by Robert Doisneau