Marisol

Born 1930 Marisol Escobar, in Paris, France. Lives and works in New York City, United States of America.

Marisol Escobar is most commonly referred to as Marisol after she renounced her surname in order to ‘stand out from the crowd’. The artist, whose practice revolved around a negotiation of identity, spent her childhood between Paris, Venezuela (her parents’ native country) and the USA. In 1949 she enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris after which she returned to New York, where she studied with Japanese photographer Yasuo Kunioshi and abstract expressionist Hans Hoffman. Despite her affinity with abstract painting, Marisol increasingly turned to three-dimensional work with terracotta, wood and plaster, inspired by pre-Columbian cultures. In 1958 she had her first solo show, at Leo Castelli’s prestigious gallery in New York, receiving great acclaim; in 1961 she also participated in the exhibition The Art of Assemblage at MoMA, New York. In this period Marisol had friendships with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, and appeared in Warhol’s films Kiss 1963 and 13 Most Beautiful Girls 1965. 

Marisol’s My Mum and I 1968 belongs to a series of works started in the early 1960s that made way for in-depth re-evaluations of pop art as an all-male, Anglo-American phenomenon. Marisol’s immersion within the New York pop art scene inspired her to experiment with mediated imagery and unconventional materials. The body of work that emerged – comprised of heterogeneous figure-sculpture-portraits of assembled carved and painted wood – manifested her omnipresent concern for portraiture and representation, combined with a renewed attention to elements from popular culture, photographs and found objects. In My Mum and I the two figures, pink boxes, humanised by protruding faces, hands and feet, stand frozen in time. Evoking her mother’s passing, when she was only eleven, the work is imbued by a sense of nostalgia. The sculptures are adorned with fragments from Marisol’s heritage, exemplified by the typically Latin American cast hat worn by the mother figure.

Sofia Gotti
September 2015