This work is included in the Françoise Gilot Archives under no. 557.
Françoise Gilot, Tamara de Lempicka and Suzanne Valadon (see lot 22), established themselves in the cosmopolitan and fiercely competitive city of Paris, and early in their careers often held the multiple positions of artist, muse and model. Resilient and dedicated, each with very different characters, they each convey an unwavering and unique artistic vision that has ensured their places in the forefront of 20th century art.
Both Gilot and Lempicka, represented in the two following works, having been both witnesses and active participants in the fervent beginnings of Modernism in Europe, later, moved to New York, where they came into contact with oneanother. Both Soleil et Récifs and Composition were created during the early 1960s when they both inhabited this city and display their respective explorations of abstraction. Lempicka, took an immediate liking to fiercely intelligent Gilot and after Lempicka’s death in 1980, Gilot wrote of her in The Arts and Antiques Magazine:
“From the glow in her eyes to the rapid tempo of her movements, she radiated power, energy and determination… The first quality of an artist is to be intelligent, she’d say, coming closer to me and probing deep into my eyes with a hypnotic stare.“
Soleil et Récifs, was painted as part of the Labyrinth series of 1962-3. A collection of over 50 canvases, the group has been described as one of Gilot’s most original and important series’ and was created simultaneously with her work on the manuscripts for her best-selling memoir Life with Picasso, which tracks her eleven year relationship with Pablo Picasso. Using rhythm, colour and structure, the works evoke the Greek myths of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur, and veer exhilaratingly through memory and mythology, using signs and symbols. Evocations of flight and the passing of time hover in masterful, carefully balanced compositions which are said to have their source in the feelings she experienced following the end to her relationship with Picasso.