María Sol Escobar, who became simply known as Marisol when she started working as an artist in 1950s New York City, died this weekend. She was 85. Her executor, Julia M. Ruthizer, cites pneumonia as the cause of death.
Marisol was born May 22, 1930 in Paris, to a Venezuelan family; when she was 11, her mother committed suicide. She moved to Los Angeles at the age of 16, but returned to Paris to further her studies in art before, finally, landing in New York at 20 years old, in 1950. She would later become friendly with many of the best-known painters of the time, though she’s maybe best remembered for her association with Andy Warhol, who cast her in his films The Kiss and 13 Most Beautiful Girls.
Her artwork itself was only arguably pop, though in its toying with folk tradition, perhaps it was just a different kind of pop: pieces like “The Family” found unrefined figures of a Dust Bowl family adorned with real accessories and period-accurate clothing and painted-on faces, at once honoring the subjects while lambasting the sometimes glorified way they had been captured by non-artists at the time. In the same vein, she grounded the elite in similar portrayals, such as in “The Kennedy Family,” and so, in a way, her art — at least these figurative sculptures — seemed an attempt to level the playing field of all humanity, rich or poor.
Soon after the success of these and similar works Marisol fell out of the art scene, though she continued working on smaller-scale sculptures and drawings. She was recently featured in shows at the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney Museum.
She left no immediate survivors.