A French painter, critic, and writer describes the decade she spent in a relationship with the father of Cubism, whom she met in 1943 when she was 21 and Picasso was 61 and with whom she had two children. First published in 1964, this memoir offers both a record of Picasso's milieu and thinking about art as well as a self-portrait of a talented young woman coming into her own genius.
Brutally honest but even-handed, Gilot openly describes her often-turbulent life with the volatile genius. Picasso is revealed as brilliant but calculating, a man who despised sentimentality and mostly sought to shock the senses. It is filled with emotional and often surprising disclosures about the man, his work, his thoughts and his contemporaries such as Matisse, Braque, Gertrude Stein and Giacometti, among others. Evocative of the time and full of remarkably detailed commemorations of conversations between Pablo and his famous friends. Gilot provides a brilliant self-portrait of a young woman with enormous talent figuring out who she really wanted to become. She provides a detailed insider's view of the great artist at work and delivers a dynamic understanding of his inner thoughts. A captivating and monumental snapshot of a bygone era that still resonates 57 years after its first publication.
... an invaluable work of art history and a revealing precursor to the literature of #MeToo ... In Gilot's telling, which is without fail warm and empathic, Picasso emerges as domineering, sexist, and borderline abusive ... she is a highly intelligent young artist to whom her former lover's artwork is as intellectually exciting as their relationship was destructive ... Throughout the memoir, Gilot takes control through her artistic intelligence. She describes Picasso's methods and compares him to his contemporaries, filtering their work through her own exacting critical eye. Gilot is exceptionally good at describing art ... But periodically she moves into full lyricism ... Gilot does spend significant time describing Picasso's artistic methods and ideas. This seems not like subordination, but like study. It also underscores the extent to which her attraction to him relied on his art ... The book's intellectual heft is in its art criticism, even as its emotional arc lies in Picasso and Gilot's unequal romance. Only by appreciating both can readers accord Gilot the respect she deserves.
... remarkable ... There’s no way to know, of course, if all this happened as Gilot says it did. (Lake said that she had 'total recall,' a claim that tends to raise rather than allay suspicions.) She has the memoirist’s prerogative—this is how I remember it—and Picasso’s tyranny and brilliance are hardly in dispute. The bigger mystery is Gilot; the self in her self-portrait can be hard to see behind the lacquered irony and reserve ... Her dissent is withering and sarcastic rather than furious; like other women of her generation who pointedly overlooked the bad behavior of their husbands, she is concerned with preserving her own dignity ... Gilot’s memoir shines, now, as a proto-feminist classic, the tale of a young woman who found herself in the thrall of a dazzling master and ended up breaking free. But it is also a love story, and a traditional one. The contradiction is right there in the book.