Artist
Marisol Escobar
Venezuelan-American sculptor

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Marisol Escobar
Venezuelan-American sculptor
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Birth Date

May 22, 1930

Death Date

April 30, 2016

svdgrift's picture

Contributor

"Not Pop, Not Op, It's Marisol!"

That’s what Grace Glueck wrote about her in 1965. Marisol was THE star of the New York art scene in the 1960s...but you've probably never heard of her.

Maria Sol Escobar was born to Venezuelan parents in chic 1930s Paris. This technically makes her French, but she claims she can't remember anything from those first 5 years in Paris. The Escobar family was constantly on the move, with Caracas and New York City as their top picks. When Marisol was 11 her mother Josefina committed suicide. Because of this, Marisol decided she would never talk again. Except at school, of course. (Try explaining that to your teacher.)

At the age of 16 her dad moved the family to LA and this is where she started painting and drawing. During these years you could find her on all fours until her knees would start to bleed, and she would tie ropes around her wrists, mimicking saints and martyrs. I wouldn’t say Marisol was a religious loony though, more like a tormented teenager and artist.

LA wasn’t really her thing, so she moved back to Paris and studied art at École des Beaux Arts ánd the Académie Julian. She was only to stay in Paris for a year though, because like every freakin’ aspiring artist back then, Marisol moved to NYC. There she finally found ”people like herself” like Hans Hoffmann, the only teacher she ever learned something from. Take that, fancy French “ecoles”!

In 1960s NYC there was this thing called “the Club”, a.k.a. the abstract expressionist circle jerk. Female members were basically nonexistent (not to mention gay or communist ones) but they were graciously allowed to attend the meetings. As if...

Well, Marisol did attend those meetings and left a lasting impression. What this badass lady did was totally unheard of. I absolutely love her for doing this and so should you. She arrived at the Club wearing a white mask and it drove those snobs completely crazy. Story goes, the men screamed and stamped their feet like little children. “Take off that goddamn mask!” they shouted. She did, only to reveal that her face was painted white, just like the mask. Safe to say Marisol was done with Abstract Expressionism and ready to do her own thang. Within a few years she was so incredibly popular, 3,000+ people would wait in line to see her show. Around that same time she starred in some Andy Warhol movies, which earned her the patronizing nickname “First Lady of Pop-Art”. This celebrity status could help her art career, so she sucked it up. Marisol wasn’t Pop Art though, her wood carvings where one of a kind. Her uniqueness may be the reason historians tend to (conveniently) forget about her.

At the end of the '60s Marisol was done with the NYC art scene, so she took a five year hiatus. She traveled the world to find her true self. The last few years had been a drug and sex infused rollercoaster, so I guess she needed it. Yet, when she returned to NYC a lot had changed and people just weren't interested anymore. Her success and stardom faded and Marisol died in obscurity.  

 

 

 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Marisol Escobar

Marisol Escobar (May 22, 1930 – April 30, 2016), otherwise known simply as Marisol, was a French sculptor of Venezuelan heritage who worked in New York City.

Early life and education

Maria Sol Escobar was born on May 22, 1930, to Venezuelan parents in Paris, France. She was preceded by an elder brother, Gustavo. Her father, Gustavo Hernandez Escobar, and her mother, Josefina, were from wealthy families and lived off assets from oil and real estate investments. This wealth led them to travel frequently from Europe, the United States, and Venezuela. At some point in time, Maria Sol began going by Marisol, a common Spanish nickname.

Josefina Escobar committed suicide in 1941, when Marisol was eleven. The tragedy, followed by her father shipping Marisol off to boarding school in Long Island, New York, for one year, affected her very deeply. Marisol decided to not speak again after her mother's passing, although she made exceptions for answering questions in school or other requirements; she did not regularly speak out loud until her early twenties.

Although Marisol was deeply traumatized, this did not affect her artistic talents. She had begun drawing early in life, with her parents encouraging her talent by taking her to museums. Her talents in drawing frequently earned her artistic prizes at the various schools she attended before settling in Los Angeles in 1946. Marisol additionally displayed talent in embroidery, spending at least three years embroidering the corner of a tablecloth (including going to school on Sundays in order to work).

Marisol was very religious. During her teen years, she coped with the trauma of her mother's death, by walking on her knees until they bled, keeping silent for long periods, and tying ropes tightly around her waist.

After Josefina's death and Marisol's exit from the Long Island boarding school, the family traveled between New York and Caracas, Venezuela. In 1946, when Marisol was 16, the family relocated permanently to Los Angeles; she was enrolled at the Marymount School for Girls. She disliked this institution, and transferred to the Westlake School for Girls in 1948.

Marisol Escobar began her formal arts education in 1946 with night classes at the Otis Art Institute and the Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles, where she studied under Howard Warshaw and Rico Lebrun.

Marisol studied art at the Paris École des Beaux-Arts in 1949. She then returned to begin studies at the Art Students League of New York, at the New School for Social Research, and she was a student of artist Hans Hofmann.

The pop art culture in the 1960s embraced Marisol as one of its members, enhancing her recognition and popularity. She concentrated her work on three-dimensional portraits, using inspiration "found in photographs or gleaned from personal memories".

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Marisol Escobar.