Françoise Gilot

Not until Pablo Picasso was 65 did he turn to clay. He had been mentally exhausted and emotionally depleted by the war years. His spirit became ignited and renewed by his passion for the very beautiful and intelligent young artist, Françoise Gilot. This began a special time for Picasso and his art.

Thomas Knapp: Do you recall the moment when Picasso first thought about doing ceramics?

Françoise Gilot: It was in 1946, and we were living in the south of France. Someone suggested to Pablo that he ought to try ceramics. He was quite excited from the beginning, and being away from Paris, he could really focus on his new discovery, clay.

Knapp: Did Picasso feel as satisfied doing ceramics as he did painting or drawing?

Gilot: It was very satisfying to him. For the first time, he allowed himself to be playful, lyrical, and to have a sense of humor, a side that had never been shown in his art before. You see, he was doing something that was new for him but it was a very ancient thing.

Knapp:  Did Picasso consider ceramics fine art or applied art?

Gilot: He felt it was a fine art and equal to his other work. In traditional China, a Mandarin had to do ceramics to prove his mastery. In many other cultures, this is true. Ceramics is a time-honored art in the Mediterranean world.

Knapp: How would you describe Picasso’s experience doing ceramics?

Gilot:  Pablo was ready to be overwhelmed by ceramics. He loved earth and clay. It was like a primal awakening – going back to his Mediterranean roots, creating his wonderful art from the most basic of materials. He was always willing to be challenged and go as far as he could.