‘I want to put her back in the spotlight’: PAMM exhibit highlights Marisol Escobar’s influence – WLRN | Candle Made Easy

Artist Marisol Escobar grew up in Venezuela and inspired some of the most successful artists of the 20th century. In the 1960s, people lined up to see her blend of Pop, Dada, and folk art in New York galleries.

One of the biggest artists she influenced was Andy Warhol. Since then it has mostly been written out of art history. An exhibition at the Perez Art Museum in downtown Miami hopes to put the artist back in the limelight.

Marisol and Warhol Take New York shows their work side by side and explores their friendship, early careers and rise to success.

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Marisol was famous before Andy Warhol and was known by her name.

“I was stunned to see how much press it got in the early ’60s,” said Jessica Beck, curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, who also curated the PAMM exhibition. “And as always in their reviews of their solo shows, the reporters commented on the thousands of people who lined up to see the shows.”

Beck’s favorite piece in the exhibition is “the Bathers”.

Three life-size figures made of wooden boxes are lolling in front of a blue panel.

“Personally, I love it so much here in Miami because we’re in a beach town, in a beach town…what Marisol does so well is that she’s captured this really beautiful, quirky movement. In the cast feet, they tilt back and forth on one of the figures, so to speak. In the single toe of one of the reclining figures – pointing upwards as you would when dangling your foot, relaxing and lounging on the beach.

Beck has been curator at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh for eight years.

“I really think Warhol was influenced and inspired by her, and the point of the show is to have Marisol two steps ahead of Warhol because, in fact, she was. And I just wanted to show how Marisol was written out of this story. I want to put her back in the limelight, give her that influence and that spotlight again,” she said.

The two artists were friends. They appear in each other’s work, including a piece in this exhibition. A sculpture, a combination of wooden boxes and chair legs, shows the seated Warhol from different angles. His shoes – a pair he was actually wearing – rest on the floor below.

Marisol’s work is difficult to categorize. Beck said the press didn’t know how to talk about it.

“It’s not abstract. It’s not quite pop, it plays with pop. It is not fully pictorial. I mean, it’s figurative, but it’s not a full assemblage, or sometimes it’s an assemblage, but it has all these problems with being cast in certain boxes,” Beck said.

And more emphasis was placed on their looks than their art.

“I think the difficulty with the press with Marisol was always … either emphasizing what she was wearing, how she looked, and always this problem of actually digging in and talking about the work,” Beck said. “One of them is being a woman and also being Venezuelan. I think that’s part of it, because the way we historicized pop, it’s still dominated by white male artists.”

Still, Marisol’s fame continued to rise. In 1958 she was featured in LIFE magazine.

And then she paused. She stopped making art in New York and traveled to Latin America and Europe.

“And when she comes back, the art world has gone in a different direction. And the work she did didn’t fit in those neat little closets of what was considered the most avant-garde art at that particular point in time,” said Marina Pacini, former chief curator of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Tennessee. In 2014 she curated a collection of Marisol’s work.

The work Marisol did after returning to New York was influenced by these trips.

“She started making all these amazing fish sculptures inspired by her diving. And then she started making a couple of masks with different types of objects hanging on them that are clearly looking at Milagros,” Pacini said.

Influenced by the small religious followers, Marisol used lightbulbs and bottle openers to hang them on sculptures.

“She was less interested in getting the kind of attention she was getting and more interested in just doing the work and being in her studio,” Pacini said.

As part of the opening of this exhibit, Helado Negro, another lesser-known Latino artist, helped introduce Marisol to Miami.

Helado Negro is the stage name of Roberto Lange. He created a soundtrack for eight silent films directed by Andy Warhol. Most of them feature Marisol.

One of them starts with a blue screen, then Marisol appears. Beck describes this silent film, Bob Indiana etc.

“So you get this really beautiful glow on Marisol’s face and on everyone and everyone looks happy and young and it has this beautiful nostalgia,” Beck said. “And Marisol finally breaks that really beautiful smile at some point. So it’s almost like Warhol is finally reaching them with this camera.

‘There’s another set of croquet on the lawn, perhaps they’ve just finished a game. They drink cocktails, smoke cigarettes. It’s just very, very playful.”

Long before the start of this project, nothing had been heard from Marisol.

“I think that was definitely an appeal to work on because her work was new to me. And I went to art school and studied a lot of art history, and it wasn’t in the books,” he said.

Now, he said, Marisol’s impact on the art world is clear.

“When we’re around other people or colleagues, there’s a lot of influence and crosstalk. And when we’re in that kind of creative zone, maybe you can give the impression that there’s been that impact on both of them,” Lange said. “And maybe in another world she would have been the person everyone knew. ”

Marisol and Warhol Take New York is on view at the Perez Art Museum in downtown Miami through September 5.

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