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'Marisol: Sculptures and Works on Paper' exhibition re-establishes artist as major figure in postwar art
This is the first major retrospective to include Marisol’s sculptures in conjunction with her works on paper.

MEMPHIS, TN.- Memphis Brooks Museum of Art announces the exhibition Marisol: Sculptures and Works on Paper, which premiered at the Brooks Museum on June 14. The exhibition will remain on view in Memphis until September 7 when it travels to El Museo del Barrio in New York City. A catalog, co-published by Yale University Press, is available worldwide.

This is the first major retrospective to include Marisol’s sculptures in conjunction with her works on paper. Curated by the Brooks Museum’s Chief Curator, Marina Pacini, the exhibition is inspired by Marisol’s mixed-media sculpture The Family, commissioned by the Brooks Museum in 1969.The exhibition includes works that range in date from 1955 to 1998 and will shed light on Marisol’s artistic evolution, both in terms of subject matter and materials. The exhibition includes examples of the various media Marisol used (bronze casting, wood carving, assemblage, plaster casts, terracotta, drawing, and printmaking) as well as the many themes and subjects she considered.

Marisol is best known for her large figural sculptures that address a variety of subjects of pivotal importance in the second half of the twentieth century including women’s roles, families, and historical and contemporary figures. Her sculptures, an amalgam of several artistic references and styles, are composed of drawn and painted elements; plaster casts; carved wood and stone; assembled plywood; industrial materials such as neon, Astroturf, and mirrors; and many found objects including clothing, televisions, and baby carriages.

Among the themes explored in the exhibition and catalogue are Marisol’s myriad influences (Neo-Dada, Surrealism, American and Latin American folk art, Pre-Columbian art, etc.); her relationship to postwar art and cultural movements (Pop, Minimalism, and Feminism); her experimentation with materials; her extensive use of portraiture; her politically charged sculptures; and her identity as a female artist who was born in Paris of Venezuelan parents and lived most of her life in New York City.

Beginning in 1955, when she was singled out by John Ferren in ArtNews for a printer’s box included in a group show at the Stable Gallery, Marisol was routinely written about by such critics as Dore Ashton, Lucy Lippard, and Irving Sandler. Marisol was immensely popular with the public as well. Her 1964 exhibition at the Stable Gallery drew 2,000 people a day. According to Lawrence Campbell, “Her visitors included not only everyone who counts in the art world, but the kind of people one does not expect to find in an art gallery—mothers with five children, for example. Children are among Marisol’s most loyal fans.” She received important commissions from Time magazine for cover portraits of Hugh Hefner and Bob Hope. In 2006, she was granted a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts from the Women’s Caucus for Art.

In November 2012, the Brooks Museum received an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the Marisol: Sculpture and Works on Paper traveling exhibition and catalogue. Previously, the Brooks Museum was awarded grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for the Marisol project.

Marina Pacini says of Marisol, “She was among the most significant artists of the 1960s. She was included in several of the important exhibitions of the decade and her work was acquired by prominent museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Over time, she was eclipsed by changing tastes in the art world and the continuing relegation of women artists to the sidelines. This exhibition will serve to remind viewers of her importance to American art. It is my hope that she will once again take her rightful place in museum exhibitions and textbooks.”

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