Marisol’s Poignant, Politically Charged Pop Portraits Finally in Spotlight at Museo del Barrio and Metropolitan Museum of Art
I can’t wait to see Pop provocateur Marisol’s life-size self-portrait at the Met, being watched as she watches her 3-D version of Leonardo’s Last Supper. Talk about the artist being present.
I used to see Marisol, who is now in her mid-80s, at gallery openings around New York. This was after her wave of ’60s fame as a rising star at Castelli and Documenta and as an intimate, and artistic subject, of Warhol. Women’s magazines celebrated the Paris-born beauty—whose family was Venezuelan—as the “Latin Garbo.”
Over the decades, Marisol’s visibility decreased, for reasons including her gender, ethnicity, and the edginess of her works, which seduced with their ramshackle wit even as they disturbed with their provocative approaches to race, religion, politics, and sex. Scholars found her sculpture inconvenient to classify.
By 2000, as Boston Globe critic Sebastian Smee puts it, Marisol “had been essentially erased from the history of postwar art.”
He was celebrating the long-awaited retrospective that opened last summer at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, part of a gradual Marisol revival that is bringing this underrated artist back to the spotlight.
Last week, her astonishing renderings of figures—Pocahantas, John-John Kennedy, The Holy Family, Magritte, Horace Poolaw, and herself, to name some—arrived at New York’s El Museo del Barrio, part of the survey of 30 sculptures and works on paper.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has just installed Self-Portrait Looking at The Last Supper (1982-84), Marisol’s spectacular 3-D translation of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, perspective intact, into a life-size tableau.
It is a bittersweet moment for curator Marina Pacini, who worked on the retrospective for a decade. The artist still lives in New York, but she was not able to attend the exhibitions.
Check out this excellent guide to Marisol’s work and join the Marisol revival at #meetmarisol.