Françoise Gilot: Sympathetic Resonance

Mar 16, 2023 — Jun 24, 2023

The emotional climate of a painting, its innate joy or its sadness, tends to awaken a similar mood in the viewer. This sympathetic resonance establishes one of the strongest links that can tie a work of art to the spectator looking at it.” 

-Françoise Gilot

Exploring the lush terrain between abstraction and figuration, Françoise Gilot’s (b. 1921, France) work is heavily influenced by her embodied emotional experiences, describing her process as an alchemy of inner life and the outer world revealed in a pictorial idiom.” Throughout her lifetime, Gilot has refused a clean classification of her work – instead, light, form and color are arrived at intuitively, with her sensorial experiences instinctively translated through her artistic hand. Gilot relies on her subconscious for inspiration and even technique, allowing her own aesthetic vernacular to instinctually inform the final image. The artist’s resultant body of work reflects her kaleidoscopic stylistic approach, as she unceasingly probes new ways of image-making. 

Born in France in 1921, she decided at the age of five to become a painter. At the age of seventeen, she earned a degree philosophy from the University of Paris, followed by a degree in English literature from Cambridge University and, at the urging of her father, she attended law school – though she abandoned this field of study to focus on her art. While initially gaining access to the upper echelon of the midcentury European art world through her then-partner, artist Pablo Picasso, Gilot trod an original artistic path for herself throughout her eight decades of artistic production. 

This presentation of works by Gilot from the collection of the Grand Rapids Art Museum celebrates her lifelong varied and expressive stylistic pursuits, and is presented concurrently with an exhibition at the Grace Hauenstein Library at Aquinas College, open from March 1 – December 31, 2023. GRAM is indebted to the generosity of the late Dr. and Mrs. John and Muriel Halick, who gifted these works to the museum.