Refocusing on Marisol’s Ingenuity as a Sculptor and Draughtswoman

Posted by: National Museum of Women in the Arts


Marisol Escobar, whose penetrating and playful, large-scale wooden sculptures were their own unique blend of Pop and folk art, died on Saturday morning, April 30, at the age of 85.

The following is an excerpt from a post by Sara Garzon that appeared on Hyperallergic, May 6, 2016.

The generous obituaries written about Marisol Escobar in the last few days have reminded us of the important figure that she was. Many have commented on the great reception her worked received during 1960s and ’70s, while also highlighting memorable aspects of her personal life. There are countless anecdotes of her idiosyncrasies, her celebrity status, and her friendships with acclaimed artists such as Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Louise Nevelson, as well as her mentoring relationships with Georgia O’Keeffe, Hans Hofmann, and William King, just to mention a few.

Throughout my own writing on Marisol’s work, specifically the close study I did of “Self-Portrait Looking at the Last Supper,” I realized that the full extent of her talents as a draughtswoman and sculptor are often less so discussed. As we celebrate her life, it’s also important to remember that despite being surrounded by very dominant artistic movements such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop art, Marisol stood out for having a unique and eclectic style that resulted in majestic and often fascinating assemblages, or what art historian Cindy Nemser termed “collaged sculptures.”

The Venezuelan, Paris-born artist first moved to New York in the 1950s. Her work quickly captivated American audiences in unprecedented ways; thousands of people lined up to see her exhibitions and even those not inside the art world knew her by name. The originality of Marisol’s work and material mastery is evident in the ingenious ways in which she played with two- and three-dimensional planes, creating in flat, sculptural surfaces the illusion of volume and depth through drawing. She also saw the formal potential of found materials, frequently appropriating discarded objects, most regularly the beams of the Manhattan piers, which she used as the base of many of her sculptures starting with her “Mona Lisa” in 1963.

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