God Is Really Only Another Artist. He Invented the Giraffe, the Elephant, and the Cat. He Has No Real Style

Pablo Picasso? Françoise Gilot? Carlton Lake? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso contemplated the dissimilarity of the animals created by God, e.g., the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He concluded that God had no consistent style. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: The artist Françoise Gilot was the lover and muse of Pablo Picasso between 1943 and 1953. During this period they had two children together. In 1964 Gilot published a memoir titled “Life with Picasso”. The art critic Carlton Lake was her co-author, and he wrote about the accuracy of her memories in the foreword to the book: 1

Throughout our work on it, I have been continuously impressed by her demonstration of the extent to which that much abused term “total recall” can be literally true. Françoise knows exactly what she said, what Pablo said, every step of the way for the ten years and more that they spent together. The direct quotations from Picasso are exactly that.

Early in their relationship Gilot visited Picasso, and he showed her a large album of his prints which included images of sculptures. Picasso commented on the diversity of styles displayed within his prints. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

He doesn’t know what he wants. No wonder his style is so ambiguous. It’s like God’s, God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things. The same with this sculptor. First he works from nature; then he tries abstraction.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Gilot’s 1964 book was reviewed in the “Courier-Post” of Camden, New Jersey, and some quotations were reprinted: 3

Picasso on having an affair with a friend’s wife: “I only did it to make him happy. I didn’t want him to think I didn’t like his wife.”

Picasso on God: “God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things.”

In 1993 “The Harper Book of Quotations” included a slightly altered version of the quotation. The word “only” was deleted, and the last sentence was rephrased: 4

God is really another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.
Pablo Picasso

In 2000 “The Times Book of Quotations” included the following: 5

Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973)
Spanish painter, sculptor and graphic artist

God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.

In conclusion, Françoise Gilot who was the intimate companion of Pablo Picasso attributed the quotation to the prominent artist in her 1964 memoir. Gilot indicated that she originally heard the words from Picasso in the 1940s.

Image Notes: Picture of a giraffe from Alexas_Fotos at Pixabay.

Notes:

  1. 1964, Life with Picasso by Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Section: Foreword, Quote Page 9, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York. (Verified with scans)
  2. 1964, Life with Picasso by Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Part I, Quote Page 50, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York. (Verified with scans)
  3. 1964 October 10, Courier-Post, Section: Weekend Magazine, Picasso’s Inamorata Is Now His Boswell (Book Review of “Life With Picasso” by Francoise Gilot and Carlton Lake), Quote Page 5, Column 1, Camden, New Jersey. (Newspapers_com)
  4. 1993, The Harper Book of Quotations, Third Edition, Edited by Robert I. Fitzhenry, Topic: God, Quote Page 175, HarperPerennial: A Division of HarperCollins, New York. (Verified with scans)
  5. 2000, The Times Book of Quotations, Section: God, Quote Page 313, HarperCollins, Glasgow, United Kingdom. (Verified on with hardcopy)