This rare exhibition of 30 works by Marisol Escobar provides a panorama of her achievements. Marisol, who was born in Paris in 1930 to Venezuelan parents, eventually settled in New York, where she became known for mining the history and geography of sculpture, with work that anticipated such artists as Robert Arneson, Judith Shea, and Whitfield Lovell.
In Tea for Three (1960), Marisol delves into folk art, using wooden hat models, three tall beams painted with the colors of the Venezuelan flag, disembodied hands and heads, artificial eyes, and carved headgear to create a totemic figure grouping. There’s a wonderful astute portrait of her and her mother (Mi Mama Y Yo, 1968) with a cutout flowered umbrella uniting the composition, and then, a nativity scene (The Family, 1969), which combines wood and neon to dramatic effect. The Family was commissioned in 1967 by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, which organized this exhibition.
Marisol’s sculpture of an American Indian with a headdress, Horace Poolaw (1993)—a boy-man standing on a wooden cart with the words “Police Line Do Not Cross”—joins Boy with Empty Bowl (1987) and a portrait of Bishop Desmond Tutu. Neither Pop nor Assemblage, Marisol’s art succeeds in that it both reflects its time and bends to something more timeless.
A version of this story originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 82.