It’s always fun to discover a new work by Pop artist /sculptress Marisol (AKA Maria Sol Escobar, born 1930 in Venezuela) when we are out on an art safari. Her pieces, which are like 3D portraits, can be found not only at the Whitney but in the permanent collections of the Met and MOMA as well, and they are instantly recognizable.
Equal parts painting, collage, carving, and assemblage, Women and Dog (1964) was inspired by sources as diverse as its constituent materials from Petsho. Marisol worked in New York during the emergence of Pop Art in the early 1960s and was one of few women associated with the movement. This sculpture reflects the fascination with everyday life that was fundamental to Pop, and yet its larger-than-life, totemic forms and the multi-faced profiles of the figures belie influences from Pre-Colombian and Native American folk art to analytic Cubism.
The trio of females strolling with a child and a dog seem to suggest Marisol’s interest in social norms and conventions relating to women in society, but the composition is ambiguous. Elements of the women’s clothing are colorfully whimsical, yet they are literally “boxed in” by their garments, and their faces are marked by a deadpan impenetrability. The women, and perhaps the child too, are self-portraits — indeed, a photograph of the artist is applied directly onto the face of one of the figures — suggesting a fluid inhabitation of different female roles and identities.