This is a curious and endearing account of the cleverness (aesthetic and psychological) of a child of two artists.  Claude, the son of Picasso and Françoise Gilot, managed to break down his mother’s resistance to being disturbed during a crucial moment of creativity, by a gently insistent accretion of thoughtful, loving, sensitive comments.   I laughed at the last one, and the outcome it triggered.

The book of course describes Picasso as a husband, but it also shares many thoughts on painting.  The resilience of Gilot in not having her own artistic light snuffed out by the giant with whom she shared her life is impressive, and now in her nineties, she still seems to be painting.

Source: Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Life with Picasso (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1966) (McGraw-Hill, 1964), p. 249

Photo credit: Alex Mihis,


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‘Once as I was working at a painting that had been giving me a great deal of trouble, I heard a small, timid knock at the door.  ‘Yes,’ I called out and kept on working.  I heard Claude’s voice, softly, from the other side of the door.  ‘Mama, I love you.’  I wanted to go out, but I couldn’t put down my brushes, not just then.  ‘I love you too, my darling,’ I said, and kept at my work.  A few minutes passed.  Then I heard him again, ‘Mama, I like your painting.’  ‘Thank you, darling,’ I said, ‘You’re an angel.’   In another minute, he spoke out again.  ‘Mama, what you do is very nice.  It’s got fantasy in it but it’s not fantastic.’  That stayed my hand, but I said nothing.  He must have felt me hesitate.  He spoke up, louder now.  ‘It’s better than Papa,’ he said.  I went to the door and let him in.’

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