It was the spring of 1943. He was 61 and she was only 21 when Pablo Picasso put a bowl of cherries on the table where Françoise Gilot was dining. Seeing her as his new muse, Picasso immediately dumped his girlfriend, Dora Maar, for Françoise. For ten years Picasso and Françoise were involved in a relationship until Françoise realized that Picasso was a tyrannical energy vampire and would consume her as he had all the other women in his life. So she did something no woman had ever done—she left him.
In 1947, Jonas Edward Salk, virologist and researcher, accepted a professorship in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine. Here he devoted himself to developing a vaccine against polio. But despite working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week for years, he just couldn’t arrive at a conclusion. So Salk decided to take a break and left for Italy where he stayed in the monastery of San Francesco d’Assisi’s Basilica.
The atmosphere here was a dramatic change from his lab in Pittsburgh. Built into the side of a hill, the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, with its cloisters, expansive exterior and semi-circular arches, is a synthesis of the Romanesque and Gothic style. The interior, decorated with frescoes by Italian artists such as Cimabue and Giotto, is particularly impressive because of the light coming in from the rose window. The spirituality of the architecture, Salk would later say, was so inspiring that it allowed him to do intuitive thinking far beyond any he’d ever done in the past. His mind liberated, once back in Pittsburg, he developed the world’s first successful polio vaccine.
Years later, in 1969, Françoise Gilot and Jonas Salk met thanks to a mutual friend. Salk was immediately smitten by the French artist but Françoise was a bit more cautious. Six months later, Salk asked Françoise to marry him. But, before accepting, Françoise insisted on certain conditions one of which being that they lived six months apart so that he could pursue his scientific endeavors in La Jolla and she her artistic ones in NYC and Paris. Salk agreed saying that, especially at their age, more than romance, what they needed was an emotional fortress. So agreeing to give one another shelter, the two married in 1970 and were together for 25 years until Salk’s death in 1995.
After his marriage to Françoise, Salk focused much of his writing on the subject of human evolution and the potential of mankind. His concept of intuitive thinking is particularly intriguing. In 1983, Salk published Anatomy of Reality: Merging of Intuition and Reason. Here are my notes:
For the human mind and consciousness to evolve, intuition and reason must also evolve. Intuition and reason is a dual relationship. They must be studied separately as well as together. Some of us have a better developed intuition just as some of us have a better developed reasoning.
Our intuition, which responds subjectively, is quicker and more sensitive than our reason which responds objectively.
Although an innate quality, intuition can be developed and cultivated.
The intuitive way of thought is the evolutionary way of thought. Like instinct, it is the extension of a natural process. Reason, says Salk, can be seen as that which man adds to explain his intuitive sense.
We must learn to let our intuition play. Because it is this intuition which helps us create the basis of our reasoning. Because it is intuition that will tell the thinking mind where to look next.
When reasoning becomes conscious of intuition and reflects on what it observes, it will automatically correct, modify, and impress its process.
Although we often speak of evolution of man’s mind, we speak of it as if we are detached from this evolution. We do not see ourselves and our minds as part of the process of evolution. But we are.
We must no longer confront the universe as objective observers as we are also part of the universe.
And what can make you part of the universe more than love?
Françoise Gilot was born on November 26, 1921. This year she will be 101 years old.
Related: The Last Love of Jonas Salk + How the World Around You Shapes Your Thoughts and Actions + Intuitive Reasoning, Effective Analytics & Success: Lessons from Dr. Jonas Salk + ANATOMY OF REALITY Anatomy of Reality: Merging of Intuition and Reason (1983) pdf + Francoise Gilot website + Picamaar + Todo es Nada + Françoise Gilot, cento anni nonostante Picasso di Natalia Aspesi +