This work has been requested for the forthcoming Marisol retrospective at the Brooks Museum, Memphis, Spring 2014.
In 1960, as a young and established artist fresh from a stay in Italy, Marisol reemerged into a New York art world that was all things Andy Warhol. In the 1950s she was overshadowed somewhat by the dominance of the Abstract Expressionist painters, but movement's seriousness prompted Marisol to seek humor in her own work, adapting a more Pop sensibility through the medium of sculpture. She expanded her range of materials to include found objects, referencing the contemporary Combines of Robert Rauschenberg. The subject of the seminal 1961 exhibition, The Art of Assemblage, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, assemblage became the focus of a new generation of artists as William C. Seitz noted, "Assemblage has become, temporarily at least, the language for impatient, hyper-critical, and anarchistic young artists" (W.C. Seitz, The Art of Assemblage, exh. cat., 1961, p. 87).
The present 'sculpto-painting,' executed in 1962-1963, depicts Andy Warhol, staring impassively out at the world. Warhol is seated in a chair wearing his own shoes, with an unassuming expression and voyeuristic gaze. Actually four portraits in one, the multiple projection of Andy's face suggests a filmic quality and serial imagery. Marisol's repetitive use of the block can be seen as a formal recapitulation, "a way of simplifying and consolidating her sculptural process. Marisol's sculptural portraits are bound to the block, which becomes a silent but commanding foil for a dialect between something private and public, illusionistic and literal" (D. Dreishpoon, "Marisol Portrait Sculpture," Art Journal, Winter 1991). It captures the fundamental nature of Warhol's personality, "Andy remains essentially a voyeur, letting things take their course and looking on with cool detachment, interested but uninvolved. Talking to him is like talking to a chair" (N. Grove, Magical Mixtures: Marisol Portrait Sculpture, exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery, April 1991, p. 48). Here, Andy sits coolly, in a pose that Marisol would use again for a 1977-1981 series of homages to older artists such as Willem de Kooning. In Warhol, Marisol found a kindred spirit who shared similar character traits and inclinations. Both had a propensity for observation, and using the famous and glamorous personalities of the New York art world as subjects. Marisol herself was a star-as beautiful as a film star and as enigmatic as Warhol, who was drawn to the artist's considerable press attention in the pages of LIFE, TIME and Vogue in the 1960s. The two were close friends and both represented by Eleanor Ward's Stable Gallery whose "stable" of artists included Joseph Cornell, Joan Mitchell, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly. As Warhol recalled: "She was very sweet to me-for instance, whenever we were out together, she used to insist on taking me home instead of the other way around" (A. Warhol and P. Hackett, POPism: The Warhol Sixties, New York, 1980, p. 34). In 1968, Marisol represented Venezuela in the Venice Biennale and included Andy in the exhibition. In the same year, Marisol was the subject of an early retrospective at the prestigious Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
Warhol featured Marisol in several films, including one of his earliest, Bob Indiana, Etc. The film shows Ward with Marisol and other artists in Ward's summer home in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Another film from 1964, Marisol-Stop Motion, shows the young artist walking around a group of her sculptures and posing for various self-portraits. She can also be seen in a 1963 roll from Kiss, embracing the painter Harold Stevenson. The following year Warhol selected her for The Thirteen Most Beautiful Women where we see her posed against a light-colored background, her dramatically pale, sculpted face emerging from her dark mass of hair (C. Angell, Andy Warhol Screen Tests, The Films of Andy Warhol, Catalogue Raisonn, vol. VI, New York, 2006, p. 122).
During the 1960s, Marisol found herself in the sympathetic company of Pop artists Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, despite the fact that she rarely used commercial items in her works. Exploiting the banality of popular culture was not the only focus of Marisol's art; wry social observation and satire had always been integral to her sculptural assemblages. As the only female artist within the Pop enclave, she managed to infuse a great deal of individuality in her sculptures - usually through the means of inserting or adopting different identities.
While most Pop artists were responding directly to media representations of the American Dream, Marisol shows its human side, both deadpan and satirical in tone. In Marisol's world, the downtrodden and the heroic are given equal weight, since her work is born out of a need to understand the nature of the human circumstance, common to us all.