The art of Marisol Escobar


Looking at Marisol

Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

Title: The Bathers

Artist: Marisol, born 1930

Date: 1961-1962
Medium: Painted wood panel, graphite, plaster cast, and sculpted wood
Dimensions: 84 in. × 70 1/4 in. × 63 in. (213.4 × 178.4 × 160 cm)
Credit Line: Promised Gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
Label Text: In The Bathers, three blocky female figures sunbathe against a backdrop of sky blue. Their carefree mood reflects the newfound leisure of post-World War II America. Expansion of car ownership, improved highways, and the growth of vacation benefits for workers compelled Americans to hit the road. Born in Paris and of Venezuelan heritage, Marisol lived and worked in New York City. Her embrace of repeating figures and popular subjects shows the influence of her friend and fellow artist, Andy Warhol. At the same time, her handcrafted approach reveals her interest in folk art traditions of the Americas.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago held this exhibition below:

MCA DNA: Warhol and Marisol

Sep 21, 2013–Jun 15, 2014

The 1960s

The 1960s were important years for artists and friends Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987) and Marisol (Marisol Escobar, American, b. France, 1930), and marked a formative period in the development of their individual careers. Warhol began using his celebrated silk screen techniques to produce serial paintings, often based on mass media images. Marisol made the first of many portraits and developed her signature style, wooden sculptures with flat painted surfaces and additional elements such as everyday objects or plaster castings. Both were prominent figures in New York City’s lively art scene during this time. The two attended events together and each exhibited their work in solo shows at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery as they came to be identified with the rising pop art movement. Warhol and Marisol even turned to one another as occasional subjects: Marisol made a sculptural portrait of Warhol in the early 1960s, titled Andy; and around the same time, Warhol featured Marisol in some of his early, and now legendary, films.

Inspired by the multifaceted relationship of these two artists, MCA DNA: Warhol and Marisolpresents a focused selection of their works, side-by-side, drawn primarily from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Key examples of Warhol’s silk screen paintings and Marisol’s wood sculptures illuminate the artists’ respective approaches to portraiture while the pairing of their work brings certain affinities into view, including a similar use of repeating figures. At the same time, their methods diverge in significant ways, perhaps most visibly in the contrast between Warhol’s overtly mechanical approach to painting and Marisol’s more handcrafted, labor-intensive techniques as a sculptor.

MCA DNA: Warhol and Marisol is organized by MCA Curator Lynne Warren and MCA Curatorial Assistant Karsten Lund.


Marisol Escobar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (December 2013)
Marisol Escobar
Marisol Escobar NYWTS.jpg

Marisol Escobar (1960)
Born May 22, 1930 (age 83)
Paris, France
Field Sculpture
Training Jepson Art InstituteÉcole des Beaux-Arts, the Art Students League of New York, The Hans Hofmann School
Movement New Realism
Works The Last Supper, Dust Bowl Migrants, and Father Damien
Awards 1997 Premio Gabriela Mistral, fromOrganization of American States; elected American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1978

The Father Damien Statue by Marisol Escobar

Maria Sol Escobar (born May 22, 1930), otherwise known simply as Marisol, is a sculptor born in Paris of Venezuelan lineage, living in Europe, the United States and Caracas.


Her education consisted of study at Jepson Art InstituteÉcole des Beaux-Arts, the Art Students League of New York, and she was a student of Hans Hofmann, and at the New School for Social Research. The pop art culture in the 1960s found Marisol as one of its members, enhancing her recognition and popularity. Marisol concentrates her work on three dimensional portraits, using inspiration “found in photographs or gleaned from personal memories” (Gardner, p. 15).

Marisol’s religious beliefs might very well have had a great deal of influence upon her tendencies toward and character for the arts. Her father moved Marisol, at age sixteen, and her brother (Gustavo Escobar) to Los Angeles after World War II and also their mother’s untimely death where Marisol began her study in the arts. She began practice in painting and drawing during her teen years. It was during these years she admitted self-inflicted acts of penance upon herself (Westmacott, p. 20 ). She walked on her knees until they bled, kept silent for long periods and tied ropes tightly around her waist in emulation of saints and martyrs.

It was Marisol’s father who reinforced her interest in art and supported Marisol in her decision to continue along its course. During her life Marisol’s mother (Josefina Escobar) was a well known patron of the arts in Venezuela. Marisol studied in Paris, France in 1949, returning to study in New York in 1950.

Artistic beginnings[edit]

From 1951 to 1954 she took courses at the New School for Social Research while studying under her most influential mentor, the so-called ‘dean of Abstract Expressionism,’ Hans Hofmann. At Hofmann’s schools in Greenwich Village andProvincetown, Massachusetts, Marisol became acquainted with notions of the “push and pull” dynamic: of forcing dichotomies between raw and finished states. During this period, Marisol was introduced to New York’s Cedar Tavern, the chief watering hole for many of the leading Abstract Expressionists with whom Marisol became friends, particularly Willem de Kooning.

Early career[edit]

It was in 1951, when Marisol discovered Pre-Columbian artifacts that she decided to give up painting and attend her focus to sculpture. Many of her paintings remain in the hands of friends and are rarely sold, making them difficult to appraise. Marisol’s inclination led her to work with terracotta and wood. She remained primarily self-taught, though having one clay course in a New York institution. Marisol’s first exhibition was in The Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1958 and it met with success. However, Marisol found herself plagued with self-doubt and ventured to analyze herself and her work as she moved abroad. She successfully freed her doubts and honed her skills (Westmacott, p. 23). Moving back to New York, she found a tremendous amount of success, culminating in her work finding home in a number of prestigious museums. Marisol sought to envelop herself in the area of abstract expressionism. “The heavy seriousness of this movement prompted Marisol to seek humor in her own work, which was essentially carved and drawn-on self-portraiture”(p. 24).

Pop Art[edit]

It was in the following decade of the 1960s that Marisol began to be influenced by pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. She even appeared in two movies by Andy Warhol, “The Kiss” and “13 Most Beautiful Girls” (“Escobar, Marisol.”). One of her best-known works from this period is The Party, a life-size group installation of figures at the Toledo Museum of Art. All the figures, gathered together in various guises of the social elite, sported Marisol’s face. It is intriguing to note that Marisol dropped her family surname of Escobar in order to divest herself of a patrilineal identity and to “stand out from the crowd.” (“Escobar, Marisol.”)

Marisol drifted through many movements, though her style has always been unique. “‘Not Pop, Not Op, It’s Marisol!’ was the way Grace Glueck titled her article in the New York Times in 1965…”(Gardner, p.13). Silence has been an integral part of Marisol’s work and life. She speaks no more than she must and in her work she is said to give silence, “form and weight”. She speaks little of her career, once to have stated, “I have always been very fortunate. People like what I do”(Gardner, p. 14).

Marisol’s diversity, unique eye and character set her apart from any one school of thought. She has often included portraits of public figures, family members and friends in her sculpture. In one exhibit, “Marisol Escobar’s ‘The Kennedys’ criticized the larger-than-life image of the family” (Walsh, 8). Marisol as well includes her interpretation of the suffering in the human condition in some of her artwork such as “Dust Bowl Migrants” and “Father Damien.” The latter sculpture is the centerpiece of the entrance to the Hawaii State Capitol and the Hawaii State Legislature in Honolulu. A second Father Damien Statue is displayed in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol. Her respect for Leonardo da Vinci led her to complete a sculptural representation of “The Last Supper” and “The Virgin with St. Anne” (Gardner, p. 12).


Marisol has received prestige and honor for her talent and unique voice and has had the opportunity to influence, fascinate and speak to viewers. She reflects her own reality and simply is who she is. She claims, “I was born an artist. Afterwards, I had to explain to everyone just what that meant” (Berman, p. 16). Marisol maintains an outward diffidence, foiling her inner stability. It is her eye for the detail, her definite perception, her clear sense of self and world that spools her creativity and gives birth to her creations. “She is an artist capable of creating both a wonderful parody of the macho ideal represented by John Wayne and a reverent homage to South African Bishop Desmond Tutu,” notes Eleanor Heartney.

Marisol is a “sculptor of modern life.” She “evokes the venality of social climbers, the integrity of great artists, the contradictions of the powerful and the quiet dignity of dispossessed” (Berman, p. 14).

She has received awards including the 1997 Premio Gabriela Mistral from the Organization of American States for her contribution to Inter-American culture. She was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1978.[citation needed]

Marisol continues to work on new pieces. Her newest compositions tend to be, compared to her previous works, of a smaller scale but remain impressive and particular.

She lives in TriBeCa, in New York City.

Works cited[edit]

  • Avis Berman, “A Bold and Incisive Way of Portraying Movers and Shakers.” Smithsonian 14 Feb. 1984: 14-16.
  • “Escobar, Marisol.” The Hutchinson Encyclopedia. September 22, 2003
  • Gardner, Paul “Who is Marisol?” ARTnews 88 May 1989: 12 –15.
  • “Marisol.” The Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth Edition; April 22, 2004.
  • Walsh, Laura. “Life of JFK depicted through art at Bruce Museum Exhibit.” AP Worldstream 19 Sept. 2003: 8.
  • Westmacott, Jean. Marisol Escobar, Pop Art. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]













From a blogger:

Marisol Escobar

One cool as hell cat. Shown here is some of her work from the 1968 Venice Biennale.




From a blogger:

MONDAY, MAY 24, 2010

Marisol Escobar

I picked Marisol as our May artist.She was born in Paris to Venezuelan parents who were financially comfortable. Her birthday is May 22, 1930. She has one brother who is an economist living in Venezuela.I like her sculptures the best. Marisol Escobar has lived in Europe, Venezuela, and the United States.

Take a look at a few of her sculptures. What do you think?

Could you take some wood scraps and paint and construct a self-portrait sculpture?

How about making your whole family?

Posted by at 3:22 PM



Marisol, Taylor at Crystal Bridges

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Marisols Martha Graham

  • Marisol’s “Portrait of Martha Graham” (Courtesy Sotheby’s)

Crystal Bridges’ latest revelation is about wood pieces it’s acquired: “Room,” an installation piece by Alison Elizabeth Taylor in which she’s created trompe l’oeil marquetry walls in an 8 by 10 space (see two of the walls below), and “Portrait of Martha Graham” by 1960s pop/folk artist Marisol (Escobar). See the full release on the jump.

I’m not crazy about marquetry myself, but Taylor’s piecing together of hundreds of pieces of wood to create a trompe l’oeil scene of, for example, the workshop below looks pretty swell. Marisol’s “Martha Graham” is right up my alley.

The CB news release says “Room” is the first piece by the artist to be acquired by a public museum. The last record of sale for the Marisol piece I can find is from a Christie’s auction in 2004, for $101,575.

Taylors Room

  • Taylor’s “Room” (Courtesy the artist and James Cohan Gallery)


Crystal Bridges announces works in wood

BENTONVILLE, Ark., December 15, 2010 — Two striking portraits in wood by female artists — one a rising star, the other an icon of the 1960s art scene — are the most recent works announced by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Room (2007-08) by Alison Elizabeth Taylor is a life-size architectural portrait created using the craft of marquetry, or inlaying sections of wood on a flat surface to form an image. Portrait of Martha Graham (1977) by Marisol, one of the few female artists to be associated with the Pop art movement, is a wood, plaster, oil and graphite rendering of the woman who pioneered modern dance in America. Both works are examples of female artists taking on art forms traditionally created by males.

“These two artists are a couple of generations apart, but they both work on a large scale, with strenuous techniques and materials: Marisol with her heavy, chopped woodworks and Alison Elizabeth Taylor with marquetry, an exquisite craft perfected by male artisans during the Renaissance,” said Don Bacigalupi, executive director of the Museum.


Although not a portrait in the traditional sense — no figure is present — Room hints at the identification of its unknown occupant. From the outside, the work appears to be a room-size white box with an open top. Upon entering, it illusorily becomes an 8-by-10-foot furnished cabin with hints of Southwestern décor and a separate sleeping space. The work is a trompe l’oeil (French for “fool the eye”) masterpiece assembled from thousands of painstakingly cut pieces of more than 200 varieties of exotic wood in their natural hues. Windows offer “views” of untouched desert vistas on one side and tract housing on the other. Trappings of a man’s life — a workbench, tools, tufted armchair, microwave, photographs, animal skulls, a Victorian gun safe, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army helmet with the ace of spades tucked into the helmet cord — provide clues to his identity.

“One of the delights of experiencing this work is to be dazzled by the technique and then put the clues together to construct an identity for its unknown occupant,” Bacigalupi said. “Room is a tour de force by a promising young art star.”

Taylor was born in 1974 in Selma, Alabama and grew up in Las Vegas. She earned a BFA in 2001 from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and an MFA in 2005 from Columbia University. While in graduate school, she taught herself wood inlay techniques by reading hobby books and researching online. She was inspired by a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she encountered the conserved and reconstructed 15th century studiolo, or study, from the ducal palace in Gubbio, Italy. Commissioned by the Duke of Urbino for his residence, the study features marquetry paneled walls that appear to be lined with cupboards whose open doors reveal items such as armor, insignia, musical instruments and books. These objects are intended to suggest the duke’s erudition, power, position and ability to afford such an elaborate and labor-intensive method of decorating his private space. Taylor creates a tension in her work by using the same methods associated with luxury and power to portray ordinary and often unsettling scenes of modern American life. For example, earlier this year she exhibited a series of panels depicting conditions she witnessed in vandalized Las Vegas homes left vacant during the recent foreclosure crisis.

Taylor has had two solo exhibitions at the James Cohan Gallery in New York and a solo show at the College of Wooster Art Museum in Ohio. Her work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions in London, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Shanghai. Crystal Bridges is the first public museum to hold Taylor’s work in its permanent collection.

Portrait of Martha Graham

Impeccable posture and a focused gaze are among the signature traits of a dancer that Marisol captured in her Portrait of Martha Graham. A hallmark of the sculptor’s work is the juxtaposition of abstract and figurative elements, embodied here by an extraordinarily detailed face and a rather blockish body. Graham was in her 80s when the work was created, and every wrinkle and fold of her skin is preserved in wood.

“This is a fabulous piece, with its equal connections to the worlds of art and dance,” said Chris Crosman, Crystal Bridges’ chief curator. “Its variety of influences, from folk art and Latin American traditions to Abstract Expressionism and Pop, pull together many threads of art history.”

Born Marisol Escobar in 1930 in Paris to well-to-do Venezuelan parents, Marisol studied art in Los Angeles and Europe before working with her most influential mentor, painter Hans Hofmann, in New York. In the 1950s, she began experimenting with Cubist assemblage techniques, making use of discarded wood and objects found in the streets of Tribeca and SoHo. Around that time, she also began studying Pre-Columbian artifacts. She had her first solo exhibition in 1958 at the legendary Leo Castelli Gallery, where she presented Pre-Columbian-inspired carvings of animals and totemic figures.

In the 1960s, Marisol was associated with the Pop art scene as a member of Andy Warhol’s circle. However, unlike most Pop artists, Marisol’s purpose was to observe the conventions of her world and comment upon what she saw. As a result, street urchins, minority groups, the disadvantaged and the downtrodden appeared in her work as frequently as the dignitaries and famous artists she knew socially.

Despite becoming an American citizen in 1963, Marisol was selected to represent Venezuela in the 1968 Venice Biennale, the first female artist to be accorded that high honor. Her work was chosen for the vice presidential mansion by Joan Mondale, wife of Vice President Walter Mondale, and she was commissioned to create the American Merchant Mariner’s Memorial in Battery Park in 1988. The artist also designed sets for Martha Graham’s production of “The Eyes of the Goddess,” performed in 1992 at City Center Theater in New York. She continues to live and work in New York City.

Several major American public collections feature Marisol’s works, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. The public collections of the Galería de Arte Nacional and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Caracas, Venezuela; the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne, Germany; and the Tokushima Modern Art Museum in Japan also feature works by Marisol.



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