Javier Vilató

About

Catalonian/Spanish, nephew of Pablo Picasso.
Born 1921 in Barcelona, died 2000 in Paris.

Javier Vilató was a nephew and close companion of Pablo Picasso. He is the son of Picasso’s sister Lola and the Catalan neuro-psychiatrist, Joan Baptista Vilató. He was all his life very close to his celebrated uncle and was a key player in Picasso’s decision to make a major donation of his works to the city of Barcelona in 1970, now housed in the Picasso museum in Barcelona.

Pablo Picasso, Francoise Gilot and Javier Vilato in Cannes, 1951, by Robert Capa.

A Catalan born and bred, Vilató enjoyed a long and successful career in Paris, Spain and in many European venues. His work is to be found in the collections of major international museums including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMA in New York, Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Jerusalem Museum in Israel and the Benaki museum in Athens. He has been described as "Barcelonan by birth, an Andalusian by sensibility and a Parisian by adoption."

At the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 he crossed the frontier into France where he was held with other Spanish refugees at the concentration camp of Argelés. His uncle Pablo Picasso managed to get him out, and the young man then settled briefly in Paris until the beginning of the Second World War. After the outbreak of war he moved back to Barcelona where he began painting and exhibiting in the 1940s.

A grant from the French government, enabled Javier Vilató to settle definitely in Paris in 1946. He became a fixture of the post-war Paris art scene exhibiting regularly in all the major salons. At the beginning of the 1950s Javier Vilató started experimenting with printmaking, a technique that, over the years, became as important to him as painting. He worked on numerous limited illustrated editions of authors such as Federico Garcia Lorca, Claude Roy, Andrée Chedid and Antonio Porchia.


Javier Vilato in his Blvd. Raspail studio in 1989.

During the 1950s and 1960s, his work gained international exposure in gallery exhibitions in Barcelona, Geneva, London and Turin. His work was also shown at the National Library in Paris and the Spanish Museum of Contemporary art in Madrid. At the end of the 1960s Javier Vilató was recognized as a major Paris engraver and invited to join the Societé des Peintres Graveurs Français. In the same period he also worked as a sculptor and on important ceramic mural commissions.

In the following three decades from 1970 until his death in 2000 the work of Javier Vilató received wide international recognition with exhibitions in museums, foundations and galleries in Switzerland, Mexico, France, Spain, Italy, Luxemburg, England and Sweden.

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