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Marisol

(b. 1930)


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(1930– ).

Sculptor, printmaker, and installation artist. Her amusing sculptures gently satirizing modern life drew widespread attention during the heyday of pop art in the 1960s. To generally blocklike approximations of the human figure, she adds carved or cast body parts, then paints the surfaces, completely or in part, to suggest clothing, accessories, facial expression, and other signifiers of identity. Often she also adds real accessories, such as jewelry and handbags, sometimes achieving a material richness bordering on assemblage. Thematically related figures frequently appear in groups, or installations. Notable for their decorative panache, her works display as well sophisticated interplay between two- and three-dimensional elements and between illusion and materiality. Most of her sculptured individuals are anonymous types, often graphically skewered for their foibles, but she sometimes portrayed celebrities, including prominent artists. She has also worked in other media, notably bronze, and much of her later work privileges whimsy over irony. In a memorable departure from more characteristic imagery, in the 1970s she produced mythically charged fusions of the human form with aspects of undersea creatures. In lithographs, screen prints, and intaglio works, she has often further evoked surrealistic fantasy with references to anatomical and biological forms. Born in Paris to Venezuelan parents, in the mid-1950s Marisol Escobar dropped her surname professionally. She spent much of her childhood in Caracas and Los Angles. In 1949 she returned to Paris to study for a year at the École des Beaux-Arts before settling in New York. There she studied at the Art Students League, where Yasuo Kuniyoshi numbered among her teachers, and subsequently at Hans Hofmann's school and the New School for Social Research (now New School). She became an American citizen in 1963. While New York has remained her base, she travels widely. Although nearly all of her training focused on two-dimensional media, in the early 1950s she began to experiment with sculptural form in small terra cottas influenced by pre-Columbian and American folk art. These appeared in a first solo show, mounted in 1958 at Leo Castelli's gallery. Positioned to enter the limelight, she lived in Italy for a year before introducing her signature work in New York.

Subjects: Art.


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