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5 Fast Facts: Marisol (María Sol Escobar)

Blog Category:  Artist Spotlight
Side view of wooden relief sculpture on wall at left. Relief depicts five figures of various sizes whose arms and hands extend out from sculpture. At right is a blurred figure moving left, heading toward a dark doorway. Behind figure on wall are an artwork and text, out of focus.

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Marisol (1930–2016), whose work is on view in NMWA’s collection galleries.

Marisol Escobar circa 1963; Photo courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, and the World Telegram & Sun; Photo by Herman Hiller
Marisol Escobar circa 1963; Photo courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, and the World Telegram & Sun; Photo by Herman Hiller

1. Mum’s the Word

Marisol lost her mother to suicide when she was just 11 years old. Deeply affected by this loss, she spent years not speaking unless absolutely necessary. New York Times journalist Grace Glueck referred to these periods as “marathon silences.” Curious to hear Marisol’s elusive, ethereal voice? Listen to this 1968 interview from the Archives of American Art.

A wooden relief sculpture of four adults and one child. The two figures on the left put their hands on the shoulders of the child in front of them. The arms and hands of all figures are three dimensional and protrude from the work.
Marisol, The Large Family Group, 1957; Painted wood, 37 x 38 x 6 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Gift of Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Lewis); © Estate of Marisol/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

2. Welcome Home

The Large Family Group (1957), one of Marisol’s earliest wood sculptures, depicts a family of five standing in close proximity. With outstretched arms, the figures invite viewers into their intimate unit. A new addition to NMWA’s collection, this family previously called the Corcoran Gallery of Art home.

3. See Me?!

Marisol, like Judith Leyster (1609–1660), Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), and Kirsten Justesen (b. 1943), represented her own likeness to explore identity and perhaps to cement herself into history. Check out Self-Portrait (1961–62),  Mi Mama y Yo (1968), and Self-Portrait Looking at the Last Supper (1982–84) three important examples of self-portraiture in the artist’s body of work.

4. Honorable Mention

Marisol is one of 13 women artists represented in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. Her bronze sculpture of Father Damien (1969), a Catholic priest who served a leper settlement in Hawaii, depicts a stoic man at the end of his life, maimed by very disease that ravaged his community.

5. Loyal Lady

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, became first museum to acquire works by Marisol—The Generals (1961–62) in 1962 and Baby Girl (1963) in 1964. This institution held a special place in Marisol’s heart. Upon her death, she expressed her enduring gratitude by bequeathing her estate to the museum.

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