"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Marisol Escobar

This 1964 photograph of Marisol Escobar (1930-2016) by Hans Namuth hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Marisol, who was born in Paris to Venezuelan parents, was profoundly affected by her mother’s suicide in 1941. The eleven-year-old retreated into a protective shell of silence and sustained an enigmatic, aloof persona, even after becoming a star of the New York City art scene during the 1960s.

Marisol’s sculptures defy easy categorization. The life-size figures that she crafted from blocks of wood satirize middle-class American dress and behavior with the playfulness of Pop art. Yet beneath the witty surface, she probed her own identity, often incorporating plaster casts and photographs of her face to reflect her fascination with the many different “selves” we present to the world.

As Hans Namuth's photograph suggests, Marisol was particularly attuned to the artificial masks that women adopt in compliance with social norms of “femininity” and “womanhood.” In the 1970s, she produced a series of masks that range from self-portraits to goddesses and other female archetypes. -- National Portrait Gallery

Herman Hiller of the World Telegram and Sun took this photo in 1963. (LOC)

Venezuelan-born society sculptress Marisol Escobar looks quizzically at the head of a woman by British sculptor Henry Moore at new Marlborough-Gerson Gallery

See Judith Shea's statue of Marisol here.

Pele deLappe also uses the metaphor of the mask to describe the feminine condition in her self portrait.

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