An intrepid spirit
Marisol was born in Paris to Venezuelan parents and spent her youth between Caracas, New York and Los Angeles. She attended the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris before settling in New York in the early 1950s, studying with Hans Hofmann and developing her interest in sculpture. Her early work is strongly influenced by Abstract Expressionist painting and the Pre-Columbian art she discovered on exhibition in New York and on travels to Mexico. Her striking life-size totemic figures consist of mixed-media assemblages combining wood with drawing, painting and found objects in a style that is sometimes quizzical or satirical. Many of them depict the role of women in society.
A leading figure in the arts of her time
Marisol became famous, not only for her edgy works, but also for the place she occupied in New York’s art scene. There, she met Andy Warhol, who would include her in several of his films. In 1968, she represented Venezuela at the Venice Biennale and was one of only four women among the 149 artists selected for that year’s Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany. Marisol continued her sculpture practice while exploring other media, such as drawing, printmaking, and photography. She also designed sets and costumes for dance companies, and she would eventually create public monuments to historical figures around the world.
A retrospective perspective
In addition to Marisol’s canonical works from the 1960s and 1970s and later projects, this retrospective exhibition includes examples of the artist’s source materials, sketches, studies, and personal photographs to further illuminate her working methods, life and times. Moreover, an extensive installation of the artist’s figurative drawings from the 1970s points to the relationship between her sculptural self-portraits and these almost confessional works, suggesting new biographical as well as feminist approaches to Marisol’s positioning and self-presentation.
An original audio tour
Be sure to have your smartphone and earbuds or headphones with you on your visit! You’ll need them to use the exhibition audioguide.
The proposed tracks feature comments and discussions by experts in Marisol’s work, including Cathleen Chaffee, Charles Balbach Chief Curator at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum and the exhibition’s curator. The audioguide also includes a contribution from a childhood friend of the artist.
To accompany the exhibition, a catalogue has been published in English and French by the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, DelMonico Books and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (for the French version). The most comprehensive art book yet dedicated to Marisol, it brings together essays by Cathleen Chaffee, Anna Katherine Brodbeck, Estrellita Brodsky, Alex Da Corte, Jessica S. Hong, Delia Solomons and Julia Vázquez, as well as an examination of the connections between Marisol’s work and the field of dance written by Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Chief Curator of the MMFA. These reflections on the long arc of Marisol’s career are presented alongside full-colour reproductions of the works in the retrospective, an exhibition history, a robust bibliography and an illustrated chronology.
Available at the MMFA Boutique and Bookstore. Museum Members are entitled to a 10% discount on the retail price.
Credits and curatorial team
An exhibition organized by the Buffalo AKG Art Museum and supported by a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Critical work related to this exhibition and collection was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The exhibition is curated by Cathleen Chaffee, Charles Balbach Chief Curator of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. The Montreal presentation is curated by Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Chief Curator of the MMFA, in collaboration with Alexandrine Théorêt, Assistant Curator of International Modern and Contemporary Art, MMFA.
Marisol (1930-2016), The Generals, 1961-1962, wood, mixed media and sound recording, 220.9 x 72.3 x 193 cm. Buffalo AKG Art Museum, gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1962, K1962:7. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo Brenda Bieger, Buffalo AKG Art Museum
Marisol (1930-2016), Baby Girl, 1963, wood and mixed media, 187.9 x 88.9 x 119.3 cm. Buffalo AKG Art Museum, gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1964, K1964:8. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo Brenda Bieger, Buffalo AKG Art Museum
Marisol retouching The Generals, 1961-1962, at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo AKG Art Museum), November 1963 (Artwork: Buffalo AKG Art Museum, gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1962, K1962:7. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York). Image courtesy of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum Digital Assets Collection and Archives
Marisol (1930-2016), Untitled, 1972, coloured pencil and felt-tip marker on paper, 43.1 x3 5.5 cm. Buffalo AKG Art Museum, bequest of Marisol, 2016, 2021:108. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo Brenda Bieger, Buffalo AKG Art Museum
Don Cyr (1967–2004). Untitled (Marisol with dog), 1960s, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.32 cm. Marisol Papers, Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Digital Image: Amanda Smith, Buffalo AKG Art Museum