In episode 74 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the acclaimed art historian, Flavia Frigeri on 60s Pop sensation, MARISOL!!!!!!
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Venezuelan-American artistMaria Sol Escobar (who went by the name of ‘Marisol’) (1930–2016) was hailed for her wooden sculptures with their deadpan expressions and awkward, playful stances. Merging hand-carved woodenfigures with real life objects, (forks, hats, boots, bags), she mocked right-wing America, commented on female identity, challenging Western ideals.
Raised between Paris, Caracas, and Los Angeles, Marisol arrived in New York City in 1950, and quickly became a central part of the development of ‘Pop’. She attracted enormous attention in the early 60s(when she was more famous than her friend, Andy Warhol). Thousands queued up for her 1966 exhibition at Sidney Janis’s Gallery.
Blank-faced, boxed in, comical and disturbing, Marisol’s hand-carved sculptures reflect the silenced and sexualised women idealised by 1960s media. Her women stare blankly ahead, void of personality, connection or interest, but draped in the high fashions of the day: sporting headbands, minidresses and heeled leather boots. Working at a time when male Pop artists favoured the ‘factory-like’ approach to working(with their entourage of assistants and engagement with hard-edged, industrial materials), Marisol hit back and formed her own version of Pop.
Influenced by Pre-Colombian and folk art, she hand-carved each sculpture alone, perhaps to emphasise the only ‘human’ aspect of the figures who had otherwise been stripped of their identities, personas, (and brains), all for the purpose of pleasing or fitting into society. They are a stark reminder of the trappings of femininity, still very much alive today.
Currently the ‘Chanel Curator for the Collection’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London, Flavia Frigeri has held numerous curatorial posts such as at Tate Modern, where she co-curated The World Goes Pop (2015), which told a global story of pop art, breaking new ground along the way.
From Latin America to Asia, and from Europe to the Middle East, this explosive exhibition explored art produced around the world during the 1960s and 1970s, showing how different cultures and countries responded to the movement, including one of the greatest artists, of the 20th century, Marisol Sol Escobar.
LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!
Follow us: Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Sound editing by Nada Smiljanic
Research assistant: Viva Ruggi
Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
Music by Ben Wetherfield