She was glamorous, sophisticated, worldly, and wickedly funny. Marisol Escobar, better known simply as “Marisol” (1930–2016), was, and still is, the most famous and successful female Pop artist. Born in Paris to wealthy Venezuelan parents and raised in New York City, Marisol survived a traumatic childhood to become an internationally celebrated sculptor.
Her life-sized, carved and painted wood portraits of world leaders, Hollywood celebrities, and herself combine brilliant draftsmanship with a keen sense of color and texture, plus a witty contrast between fully articulated elements and other areas that she deliberately left blocklike. Her first one-woman show at the prestigious Leo Castelli Gallery in 1958 earned positive reviews and Marisol remained a prominent member of New York’s avant-garde art world throughout the 1960s, even appearing in two of Andy Warhol’s movies.
In this richly illustrated lecture, art historian Nancy G. Heller examines Marisol’s major works, to define her place within the broader context of Pop Art and 1960s American society in general. She pays particular attention to the difficulties of her position as a female Latinx artist in a world dominated by white men. Heller also considers the recent renewal of scholarly interest in Marisol’s work stemming from a 2014 retrospective.
Heller is a professor emerita at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*
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