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Behind The Scenes : The Real Mythology of Artist Francoise Gilot

January 14, 1994

Paloma Picasso bestows jewelry upon her. Pablo Picasso was inspired to paint her portrait, as was Henri Matisse. And her artwork has been exhibited all over the world.

All are experiences to relish, but these are not the most interesting facts about artist Francoise Gilot.

This is a woman who has two incredible jewels, "passion and wisdom," says her friend, author Arianna Huffington.

Gilot, 72, certainly has a drive of her own. She left Picasso--the only woman to do so--after living with him for 10 years. She was a longtime ally to poet, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, and she married Dr. Jonas Salk of polio vaccine fame because, she said, "Lions mate with lions."

And she has a style of her own. At the Saturday opening of "Mythology of the Gods," an exhibit of her oils on canvas at the Severin Wunderman Museum (through April 8), Gilot wore a strikingly arabesque outfit: a black Calvin Klein suit with a Flamenco-style ruffled skirt, green metallic knit top from Yves Saint Laurent, a long floral velvet scarf and an Italian lace belt. A gold necklace, watch, earrings and rings were designed by her daughter Paloma.

"I'm a kind of mixture--a kind of Russian salad, a tutti-frutti," she joked about her outfit before receiving the museum's Jean Cocteau International Style Award.

"Fashion for me is something I find exciting, provided you don't follow the dictum of fashion. I do my own thing, so to speak."

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