Marisol (Marisol Escobar)

Born in Paris in 1930 to Venezuelan parents, Marisol Escobar spent much of her childhood traveling Europe with her family and living alternately between Caracas and the United States. From an early age, Marisol aspired to be an artist. During high school in Los Angeles she enrolled in night classes at the Jepson School studying painting with Howard Warschaw and in 1949 she moved to Paris to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. The traditional curriculum in Paris did not appeal to Marisol and after only one year, she returned to the United States.

Marisol moved to New York, the city was the setting for a number of relationships, events and introductions that would have a profound influence on her artistic production. In 1951, she visited a gallery featuring a show of Pre-Columbian art, an experience that led to her great appreciation for works by untrained artists and to her use of found objects in her work. Marisol also became friends with titans from the Abstract Expressionist movement; she took painting classes from Hans Hofmann and could be found at Cedar Tavern along with Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning as well as many writers of the beat generation. It was during the 1950s that Marisol shifted her interest from two-dimensional painting to sculpture, became known simply as Marisol, and had her first solo show at Leo Castelli Gallery (1958).

Marisol explains her shift towards sculpture, "started as a kind of rebellion. Everything was so serious - I started to do something funny so that I would become happier - and it worked." Marisol’s oeuvre is comprised of works that are at once solemn and humorous. Though her work aligns with a Pop sensibility, it defies strict categorization drawing from multiple schools of thought. From her earliest works, small figural forms in terracotta, bronze, and wood to her later large-scale assembled portraits, her art speaks to her diverse character and style. Marisol once said: "Whatever the artist makes is always a kind of self-portrait."

Today, works by Marisol can be found in permanent collections around the globe. Upon her death in 2016, Marisol’s estate was bequeathed to the Albright-Knox, the first museum to have acquired her work and with whom she maintained a relationship throughout her life.

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