Marisol

UnnamedMarisol (American, 1930-2016), Printer's Box, 1958, Wood and ceramic, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A. Bergman, Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 1978.005

 

ABOUT THE ARTWORK

 

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Who made it?

Marisol Escobar, who later went only by Marisol, was born in France to Venezuelan parents and split her time between the two countries before moving to America. She was a complicated artist who moved between art movements. She didn’t speak much about her work—long periods of silence were a part of her life and artistic practice; she presented herself, at times as more of a persona than a person. Only very recently has there been renewed interest in her work and through it, her commentary on the issues still of concern in our contemporary society.  

About her artistic practice, Marisol said, "I never got stuck or bogged down on a piece because I trained myself that a mistake is not a mistake; so I don’t make mistakes... so I made up a kind of art that is either all a mistake or all not a mistake. I never erase or start over or redo something. I just leave it and work it through. I feel it’s almost meant to be; it becomes part of the piece, and it never looks that bad because I’m not doing a kind of art that is so pure that if I chip it, there is a problem."


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What's going on in this work?

Marisol's earliest sculptures, such as Printer's Box, consisted of small clay figures and wood carvings, which demonstrated her interest in found objects, Pre-Colombian figurines, American folk art, and religious art.

In this work, the printer's typesetting box houses a menagerie of figures each bearing the marks of Marisol's fingers and clay tools. The figures range from semi-human forms to completely organic ones, all neatly organized into compartments.  Marisol often integrated humor into her sculptures to comment satirically on the political, social, racial, and gender issues that she observed and experienced.  


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Take a closer look.

Click on the full image of Printer's Box above to see a larger version of the work. Look closely at the sculpture and use these questions to guide your looking. Share your thoughts with your family at home, with a friend through a virtual conversation, or with us in a response to this email.  

  • How many figures do you see in this work? Does each occupy its own space or do some share spaces? 
  • How would you describe the expressions of these figures? Are they all the same or all different? What do you see that makes you say that?
  • Marisol was inspired by figures made by peoples from the Tlatilco culture in what is now Mexico. Not much is known about these figures, but they are thought to represent important people from the community. Each is entirely handmade and unique—a portrait of an individual. Look at examples of these Tlatilco figures from the Snite Museum’s collection and compare them to the figures in Marisol’s Printer's Box. How are they similar? How are they different? What do you see that makes you say that?

Image credits:
Marisol (American, 1930-2016), Printer's Box, 1958, Wood and ceramic, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A. Bergman, Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 1978.005 | Photograph of Marisol Escobar by Ana Luisa Figueredo. | Two detailed views of Printers Box in a circular format, progressively zooming in on the sculpture.