1 More

Living Forest

Living Forest
signed with the artist monogram and date ‘F.Gilot Nov. 1977.’ (lower right); titled and dated ‘Living Forest 1977’ (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
130 x 80.7 cm. (51 1⁄5 x 31 3⁄5 in.)
Painted in 1977
Private collection of the artist
Feingarten Galleries, Los Angeles
Harle Montgomery, California (acquired from the above)
Private collection; sale, Christie's Shanghai, 26 April 2014, Lot 25
Private collection, by whom acquired at the above sale

Françoise Gilot has confirmed the authenticity of this work. It is recorded in her archives under the number 913
F. Gilot and D. Vierny, Francoise Gilot, Lausanne, 2000, pp. 206 and 441 (illustrated, p. 207).
La Jolla, California, Riggs Gallery, For the Love of Art , July 1992.

Brought to you by

Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡) Senior Vice President, Deputy Head of Department

Lot Essay

“Through the years, while still using tone interaction to establish planes in space, I have increasingly devoted colour to the expression of emotion and feeling.”
Françoise Gilot

An up-and-coming art star by age 21, Françoise Gilot belonged to the post-War milieu of artists redefining the European artistic landscape in the 1940s and early-1950s. Holding her first important exhibition in Paris in 1943, Gilot would subsequently sign a contract with the legendary dealer Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler in 1949 to become one of only two women artists to ever to be on his roster. Her first exhibition with Kahnweiler’s famed Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris in 1952, would be a defining moment in her life and career, with Jean Cassou of the French Ministry of Culture purchasing one her paintings for the permanent collection of Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris. As an artist in the milieu with masters of word and paint such as Braque, Chagall, Matisse, Cocteau and Picasso, she both absorbed these influences and innovated as a member of the younger Post-War generation that developed out of the canon of modern art. Gilot then progressed from her early career to flourish in her practice, increasingly spending time in America during the 1960s, commencing a new chapter and pursue new directions in her work and life.

Gilot’s practice accelerated upon her move to the United States in 1970, coinciding with her marriage to Dr. Jonas Salk, the distinguished scientist who developed the Polio vaccine. Exploring multiple creative disciplines between painting, print-making and writing, Gilot would continue to investigate creative tensions between abstraction and figuration. In 1970 her work was exhibited in the first of many museum exhibitions to follow, held at the Southampton Museum of Art, New York. Towards the end of December 1976, Gilot would travel to India for the first time with her husband Dr. Salk, whom she married in 1970, staying for about one month. The intense burst of colour and luscious complexity of the ancient, towering, abundant trees in Living Forest reflects the brilliantly saturated hues and the unique light of these surroundings. In this work, Gilot creates a magnificent imaginary and thriving forest, inspired by the sensory memory of this unique and fascinating place.

Gilot is known to have sensorially absorbed the experience of new places as she travelled. This would in turn have a powerful impact on her work, the sense of place translating not only in the physical sense of the people, nature and culture she would observe and encounter, but in her internal subjective reaction to each place and the profound intuitive feelings, memory and senses it would evoke within her, translating into her art. As the artist herself remarked: “At times, it seems that I am observing the blooming of red poppies in a wheat field, or a palace in Rajasthan, the walled gate of a village in the Languedoc, the pink tonality of a street in Assisi, or that I remember the intense green of moors in Brittany or the more exotic sight of feluccas on the Nile. Yet all of this is invented and has more to do with what I felt or thought about reality than from the direct testimony of my senses. This is not so much the process of sublimation, but a poetic activity in the archaic meaning of that term, or, more precisely, an alchemy of inner life and the outer world revealed in a pictorial idiom. I am perhaps chasing an impossible dream, but mostly I want to surprise myself and to celebrate on the canvas an alliance with the unknown that allows me to discover the as yet unseen or even the invisible. For sure, the as yet unseen must exist somewhere at the outer margin of the visible, or else it must be invented to create new possibilities for the future.” (Françoise Gilot quoted from The F. Gilot Archives, Themes in Gilot’s Work: Journeys and Visions, https://www. accessed 31 October 2021).

Living Forest, in all its magnificent colourful complexity, reveals the distinctive artistic individuality and authenticity of Gilot’s ever evolving oeuvre. It reaffirms the resolute embrace of the changeable nature of life and artistic inspiration that she so eloquently conveys in her best work. Exploring themes deriving both from the physical and the metaphysical world, Gilot infuses her experiences of nature, relationships, places and objects with a deeply personal and poetic pictorial rhetoric that expresses the intangible elements of feeling, memory and perception. As witnessed in Living Forest, Gilot’s canvases frequently hover between abstraction and figuration, infused with bold and emotive colour that captivates and conveys with great fortitude and brilliance her intensely personal artistic vision.

The year following, in 1978, Gilot would receive the honour of Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, as bestowed by the French Ministry of Culture, further followed by the honour of Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur in 1990, and ultimately, the Officier de la Legion d’Honneur, bestowed by the French Government in 2009. Gilot’s work is held in important museum collections globally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris.

More from 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale

View All
View All