Whew! This past week I was on vacation so the last week of my Marisol Escobar study has been a little crazy. I posted a few little things while traveling and then got caught up this weekend.
I didn't realize how many portraits of famous people that Marisol did, many more than these here but four of my my faves are Georgia O'Keeffe with Antelope, John Wayne, Picasso, and Andy Warhol.
In Marisol's sculptures, small Marisol dolls are often held captive by larger figures, raising the issue of control or perhaps being controlled. Marisol said of the sculpture Baby Boy:
Marisol and Andy Warhol were good friends in the 60's and often attended events together. It was said that “If ever there was anyone who could out Warhol- Andy Warhol, it [was] Marisol Escobar.”
She appeared in two of Andy’s earliest films: The 13 Most Beautiful Girls and The Kiss.
Once again, Marisol's career was in high gear and she decided to leave NYC. This time she traveled the world––Asia, Tahiti, the Caribbean, South America. While in Tahiti she learned to scuba dive. She dove in every ocean in the world.
On Marisol's return from Tahiti, she embarked on a body of work centered on fish. She used photographs taken while scuba diving and relied on technical drawings. The fish have plastic faces cast from Marisol's face. In 1973 nine fish sculptures were paired with 16 landscapes for a solo show at Janis. She explained:
Marisol also returned to printmaking. She told reporters that she was not interested in prints, that people talked her into it but she took a printmaking class in 1957, did a printmaking residency 1964-1965, another one 1970-1973, and continued to make prints for many years.
Marisol also completed a number of large drawings in which bright colors are negated by violence and eroticism. The titles of the pieces are aggressive and in the first person. Viewers were overwhelmed with the scale of the pieces from 3x4 feet to 6x8 feet.
Critics weighed in "the work of Marisol always seemed somewhat uneasy and out of place in the company of other Pop art. In the context of her recent highly charged sexual imagery, it is difficult even to see her doll-like early pieces as the light-hearted, humorous, 'populur' icons we once thought they were. Now these boxed in figures seem like trapped mummified victims as well as wry commentaries on sexual role-playing and the nuclear family."
Marisol responded in her typical cool tone: "I have always done erotic art. ... Erotic art is a way out from war and bombing. . . . It's a good moral idea to distract people from destroying themselves."
Marisol participated in collaborative projects, often creating sets and costumes for dance companies. She had a close relationship with dancer/choreographer Martha Graham.
Marisol's portrait of Martha is similar to her portraits of Picasso, DeKooning, and her father––seated in chairs with their age (and perhaps wisdom) emphasized. Marisol said
Marisol made a few homages to Leonardo DaVinci (Mona Lisa and Madonnna, Child, St. Anne and St. John) and said he was an influence very early on. She said her Last Supper was about the "downfall of Western culture, the loss of morality," and that she was watching it all happen.
Another theme for Marisol was poverty and social injustice. The Family, 1962, is based on a found photograph similar to the dust bowl families made famous by FSA photographers. Marisol's The Family is missing the male head of household, working-class, anonymous, and literally tied to the wall. Marisol's Boy with Empty Bowl, 1987, was created for the International Art Show for the End of World Hunger.
Marisol Escobar had Alzheimer's disease and died last year on April 30th of pneumonia at the age of 85. In the 1960's she was more popular than Andy Warhol but since has mostly been forgotten.
She was usually described as a Pop artist though never really fit in any category. At the peak of her popularity she said, "It doesn't make any real difference whether I continue to be successful. If one artist that you respect says he likes your work, that's the important thing. I could go on working even unrecognized." (And she did just that.)