In the mid-1960s Marisol was lauded as the female artist of her generation and was proclaimed to be “the only girl artist with glamour” for her fashion sense and “the Latin Garbo” for her apparent exoticism, legendary beauty and famed silences. Thousands lined up to see her remarkable life-size Pop art sculptures early in her career, and her celebrity nearly overshadowed her formidable accomplishments. But this attention would fade following her temporary retreat from the art world in the late 1960s and a shift in her work’s subject matter. Her 2016 obituary in the Guardiandescribed her as “the forgotten star of Pop art.”
This catalog, the most comprehensive on Marisol’s work ever assembled, accompanies a major traveling retrospective organized by the Buffalo AKG Art Museum (formerly the Albright-Knox Art Gallery) that reckons with the entirety of her pioneering, multifaceted, 60-year career. While celebrating her satirical and deceptively political sculptures and self-portraits that helped define the 1960s, the book’s essays also examine her works that embody animal intelligence and allude to environmental precarity, testify to interpersonal violence, engage with the immigrant experience, figure postcolonial disenfranchisement and destabilize sexual norms and gender binaries. Her public sculptures and collaborations with choreographers are examined for the first time. Assessments by leading scholars affirm Marisol’s radical legacy for the 21st century. These exciting reflections are presented alongside full-color reproductions of her works, a robust bibliography, an exhibition history and an illustrated chronology.
Marisol (1930–2016) was born Maria Sol Escobar in Paris to a Venezuelan family. She drew continually and from a young age adopted the name Marisol. Like many of the artists who emerged in the early 1950s, Marisol was at first influenced by Abstract Expressionism, but after seeing pre-Columbian art in Mexico and New York, she began making sculpture in 1954, and soon began focusing on the totemic figures for which she is best known.