Brooks Museum's Marisol Retrospective Re-establishes a Major Figure in Postwar Art

Jun 24, 2014

The Brooks Museum has created the first major retrospective to include Marisol's sculptures in conjunction with her works on paper.

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is premiering the first major retrospective of sculpture and works on paper by Marisol Escobar.  Marisol:  Sculptures and Works on Paper will be on view through September 7, and will then travel to El Museo del Barrio in New York City.  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 sheds light on Marisol's artistic evolution, both in terms of subject matter and materials.

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-Colombian arts, 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.

Brooks' chief curator Marina Pacini says of Marisol, "She was among the most significant artists of the 1960's.  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."

The Brooks Museum will feature several Marisol-related programs, including lectures, docent-led tours, special events, and films.  Details can be found at, and #meetmarisol.

I spoke with curator Marina Pacini about Marisol:  Sculptures and Works on Paper, an exhibit that was nine years in the making.