TASCHEN presents a fantastic book on Françoise Gilot’s travel sketchbooks, made between 1974 and 1981. It features essay and introduction by Hans Werner Holzwarth, and ara conversation between Gilot and Thérèse Crémieux on the artist’s work and travels. The beautiful ouvrage retraces artist and Picasso’s muse’s travels to Venice, India, and Senegal. Packaged in a fold-out box set, the sketchbooks are accompanied by an illustrated booklet which gathers an insightful introduction, a conversation with the artist on her work and travels, and translations of the handwritten text within the drawings.
Françoise Gilot, an artist in her own right, has published a number of books, not just her famous Life with Picasso, in which she recounts her experiences of 10 years at the side of the most famous artist of the 20th century, but also poetry and stories with her own illustrations.
Gilot travels to Venice in the summer of 1974. Views of the city are mixed with reimaginations of the canals and cityscape, yet it is above all the spirit, history, and myth of Venice that animates her work. She also pays tribute to its art with various pages characterizing her forebears: the Bellinis, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Veronese, Titian, Tintoretto. Gilot mixes writing with the illustrations, her beautifully organic lettering becoming part of the drawings in which she depicts the canals, the cafés, the lovers at the water’s edge.
The second sketchbook is from Gilot’s trip to India in late 1979. The sketches, mostly in black and white, capture people on the road, market stalls, cows and other animals, and wall advertisements for the coming election. Central to the sketchbook are the figures of women, working or carrying a load, always clad in impeccable saris whose folds especially attract the artist: “The cloth is a cocoon,” she notes, “and in this latent metamorphosis lies the magic of the curved line.”
In 1981 Gilot visits Senegal, where she is impressed by the people she encounters, their movements and meetings, life in the circle huts and on marketplaces. Her sketchbook is almost jewel-like in its colorful intensity, juxtaposed with deep-inked black-and-white line drawings.