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A New Artist’s Book Draws From a Life on the Road

French artist, Françoise Gilot, opens her travels sketchbooks of Italy, India, and Senegal.


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What are the spoils of a life well traveled? A new book featuring the travel sketches of French artist and poet Françoise Gilot makes a strong case that the reward for adventure is ceaseless inspiration.

Françoise Gilot: Three Travel Sketchbooks: Venice, India, Senegal, the new box set book from Taschen ($200), recreates the journals filled by the artist between 1974 and 198—down to their original dimensions—and presents them alongside a new volume featuring an interview with the artist and an introduction to her work.

To many, Gilot, who was born in France in 1921, is best-known secondhand, not for her own multifaceted oeuvre, but as the partner and muse of Pablo Picasso for just about a decade in the ’40s and ’50s—an experience she later recounted in her memoir Life with Picasso. This new title, however, celebrates the artist—a member of the postwar Nouvelle École de Paris—on her own terms and through the lens of travel.

Each of the three journals celebrates the essence of its destination: in her signature style that sits somewhere between abstraction and figuration, always with the sense of the poetic, with lyrical hand-lettered text observations and musing on her travels: the watery vistas of Venice rendered in blue, black-and-white figures from the markets of India, and exuberantly colored sketches of the vibrant streetscapes of Senegal.

Rather than a simple travelogue, the books—which are also available as three Art Editions of 60, each pegged to a signed lithograph from one of the journals—offer a portrait of a creative inner life. That’s because, as the 96-year-old recently told The New York Times: “Art doesn’t come from what is around you, but from what is inside of you.”


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