Stories Henri Matisse Pablo Picasso Francoise Gilot

by Alain Chivilò


Pablo Picasso (Malaga, 25/10/1881 – Mougins, 8/4/1973), Henri Matisse (Le Cateau-Cambrésis, 31/12/1869 – Nice, 3/11/1954) two immeasurable Masters, thirteen years apart as date of birth for Matisse and nineteen as the date of death for Picasso.

Two personalities, two geniuses and two artists in admiration and competition. Masters of the twentieth century who will always be remembered, cited and exhibited in retrospective or thematic exhibitions.

A witness, muse of Picasso and subsequently of other men, was the painter Francoise Gilot (Neuilly-sur-Seine, 11/26/1921 – New York, 6/6/2023) who loved the artist, but also fought him after having left (1953) both for her artistic career, for her life, for her children, for herself as a woman and finally for the book “My life with Picasso” (1964). From a passage by an interview dated 2012: to the threat “no one leaves a man like me”, “I replied: wait and see. It was a provocation and he thought how his power over me was invincible. At a certain point, his Mental sadism was even worse than his physical cruelty: that’s why my love for him ended. I have never loved anyone so intensely but, I didn’t want to be a slave either. If I had stayed, my children would have been negatively affected”.

Returning instead to the Matisse – Picasso’s connection, she indicated how “no one meant as much to Picasso as Matisse”. Furthermore, “in their meetings the active part was Pablo; the passive, Matisse. Pablo always tried to charm Matisse, like a dancer, but in the end it was Matisse who conquered Pablo”.

Again from the 2012 interview: “They were friends. Matisse was a couple of years older and he was paternal, Pablo didn’t mind and accepted. Once, jokingly, Matisse said that they were like the two poles of the Earth. He came from the north from France, Pablo from southern Spain. Pablo replied, “Well, I’m the South Pole, it’s colder”.

Instead, on the occasion of Francoise Gilot’s first meeting with Henri Matisse, “I wore a lilac blouse and green trousers: I knew he would like the colors, I knew his paintings. Matisse had a sublime humor and acted as if he didn’t know about my relationship with Pablo. He told him that he wanted to paint my portrait with the blue body and green hair. At home, Pablo muttered: “How dare he? I’ll do it”. We were in relationship for three years but, he had never taken a portrait of me”.

Stories and life situations. Chapters that open and close because each area must first of all be tangible and immediately experienced.

From the video “Matisse Picasso” of 2002. Interpreter Françoise Gilot. Director, Philippe Kohly.


©AC, NDSL, AM, Alain Chivilo

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