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PAMM new exhibition: Marisol and Warhol Take New York

The exhibition features key loans of Marisol’s work from major global collections, along with iconic works and rarely seen films and archival materials from The Warhol’s collection. The catalogue has a timeline of shared events and the overlap in Marisol and Warhol’s early careers from 1949 to 1968. 

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As much as art lovers may think they know the overexposed Andy Warhol, there is always more. The recent docu series The Andy Warhol Diaries revealed his intense personal life, filled with both joy and tragedy.

In a new show at PAMM, yet a new figure emerges from his orbit, the Venezuelan artist Marisol, whose collaborations with Warhol and the Pop crowd are on vivid display.

The show, Marisol and Warhol Take New York, has iconic artworks and ephemera by both artists.

Exploring the artists’ parallel rises to success, and the beginning of their early artistic practices from 1960 to 1968, viewers also come to understand Marisol’s relative obscurity as a woman in the shadow of the male Pop art giants, and the male dominated gallery and museum system that kept her work on the sidelines.

The exhibition features key loans of Marisol’s work from major global collections, along with iconic works and rarely seen films and archival materials from The Warhol’s collection.

Born in Paris to Venezuelan parents, Marisol (María Sol Escobar) held a central position in the New York art scene and American Pop movement. She was written out of the white male-dominated Pop narrative when she left the states for Europe.

Dark and exotic looking, she was in his early films The Kiss (1963) and 13 Most Beautiful Girls (1964), but they never exhibited together. She made sculptures of him in her signature painted wood block, that work is at the entrance to the PAMM show. The films are screened in a large, darkened room here.

Born in Paris in 1930, she mostly lived and worked in New York City. She began drawing early in life, and it earned her artistic prizes at the various schools she attended. Marisol studied art in Paris, then returned to begin studies at the Art Students League of New York. Marisol dropped her family surname of Escobar in order to lose the patrilineal identity and to “stand out from the crowd”.

Pop art culture embraced Marisol, as she worked on three-dimensional portraits, using inspiration found in photographs or gleaned from personal memories. Found objects, such as wood blocks became her Mona Lisa sculpture, and an old couch became The Visit. She used added body parts cast from her hands, feet and face.

Warhol by Marisol, photo Sandra Schulman
Warhol by Marisol, photo Sandra Schulman

There are plenty of Warhol’s here, instantly recognizable prints of the Statue of Liberty, and Brillo boxes, and the Campbell soup and Coca Cola, but the fun is seeing how the two artists play off the same imagery.

One striking collaboration features Warhol’s tragic screens of Jackie Kennedy in her pillbox hats and veils lining the wall behind Marisol’s wood block family portraits of John Kennedy, Jackie in her blue hat, young Caroline in a blond bob, and JFK Jr. as a babe in Jackie’s arms.

While Warhol used newspaper clippings of flowers and car crashes and found commercial objects, Marisol’s practice was more introspective with her own face in most of the works. Her portraits were either people she knew personally or admired as mentors. She demonstrated a dynamic combination of folk art, dada, and surrealism with a deep psychological insight into contemporary life.

One of her best-known works from this period on display here is the stunner called The Party, a life-size group installation of figures. All of the figures, gathered together in various dresses, sport Marisol’s face. Using a floor to ceiling backdrop of Warhol’s neon pink and yellow Cow image as wallpaper, the full Dada effect is in play. A party of one artist in multiple, in front of a wall of repeated bovines.

Using assemblages of plaster casts, wooden blocks, woodcarving, drawings, photography, paint, and pieces of clothing, Marisol creates her own vision of femininity, most commonly determined by the male onlooker, seen as either mother, seductress, or partner.

She was also an archivist. A glass case holds the contents of a year’s worth of ephemera – date books, lists, and photos. She had close to a thousand of them, each labeled by year.

She drifted off to Europe and thus ended her New York Pop tenure. She lived to age 86, far outlasting Warhol but only recently getting her due.

This exhibition seeks to reclaim the importance of her work and place and practice; to reframe the strength, originality, and daring nature of her work; placing her as one of the leading figures of the Pop era.

A publication exploring the relationship between Marisol and Warhol, includes contributions by Jessica Beck, Jeffrey Deitch, Angie Cruz, Eleanor Friedberger and PAMM director Franklin Sirmans. Created from extensive research of reviews, articles and archival documents, the catalogue has a timeline of shared events and the overlap in Marisol and Warhol’s early careers from 1949 to 1968.

The exhibit goes through September 5th, 2022 at PAMM at 1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, 33132. Online www.pamm.org

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