Art

"Marisol and Warhol Take New York" at PAMM Shines a Light on Two Pop-Art Icons

Andy Warhol and Marisol are the focus of PAMM's latest exhibition.
Andy Warhol and Marisol are the focus of PAMM's latest exhibition. © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. and © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY
The speckles of glitter in the resin of Maritza Lacayo's pink, blue, and yellow-colored glasses shine as they reflect the setting sun seeping in from the large, open windows. Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) curator sits excitedly across the table from the museum's director, Franklin Sirmans.

The office has floor-to-ceiling windows with a stunning view of the bay and the Adrienne Arsht Center. The crisp blue sky and the blue of the water make a perfect pairing that can inspire even the most stunted creatives. Stacks of books and papers are sprawled all over a white desk. Tiny figurines with large heads nod from the white bookshelf.

The dynamic duo worked closely to orchestrate the museum's forthcoming exhibition, "Marisol and Warhol Take New York."

Opening Thursday, April 14, the exhibition tells the rich story of two artists who formed a relationship and inspired each other creatively.

The show, curated by Jessica Beck of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, flows in a way wherein the pieces are in conversation with one another. The featured works were created between 1960 and 1968, when the two artists lived in New York City.

The primary objective of "Marisol and Warhol Take New York" is to immerse the viewer in a time when pop art was thriving in New York City and reintroduce two of its major players: Marisol Escobar (better known in the art world simply as Marisol) and Andy Warhol.

"A lot of people will assume that Warhol was the famous one first, but really it was [Marisol]," says Lacayo as she adjusts her colorful frames. "There was so much about her that Warhol admired. She, in a way, inspired him."
click to enlarge Marisol's Dinner Date,1963 - © 2021 ESTATE OF MARISOL / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK
Marisol's Dinner Date,1963
© 2021 Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
It's the first installation day for the show, and Lacayo is honoring the occasion by sporting a pin of Warhol's face on one side of her shirt collar. On the other white tip is a Campbell's soup can enamel pin.

For years, Marisol's contributions to the New York art scene were left out of the canon. The public hears ad nauseam about Warhol and his soup cans. But Paris-born, Venezuela-raised Marisol is a key player often overlooked by art historians. Why?

"It's hard to pinpoint one thing," Lacayo says. "I feel like when [Marisol] left for Europe in 1968, she leaves the New York art scene, and I think a lot of people interpreted that as a sort of rejection of the art scene in the '60s, and it was easier to write her out.

"I think it's special that the show puts her back into the New York pop origin story," Lacayo adds.

As guests enter the exhibition space on the museum's second floor, they will be greeted by Warhol's massive Statue of Liberty painting adjacent to Marisol's sculpture From France. Photographs by David McKay featuring Warhol and Marisol in front of the Empire State Building are also at the forefront of the space.

"You're being told from the very beginning that this [show] has a New York context," Lacayo explains. "It's as if you're transported in time to New York in the 1960s."

Hang a sharp right and the next work to experience is a collection of Warhol's early films featuring Marisol. Lacayo describes the short films as setting the tone for what you'll see in the rest of the exhibit. Through Warhol's lens, the viewer is treated to an intimate look into their relationship and develops a sense of the works to come.
click to enlarge Andy Warhol's Silver Liz [Ferus Type], 1963 - © 2021 THE ANDY WARHOL FOUNDATION FOR THE VISUAL ARTS, INC. / LICENSED BY ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK
Andy Warhol's Silver Liz [Ferus Type], 1963
© 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Sirmans notes that Marisol was an established artist who studied with the German abstract painter Hans Hofmann. Her education and life experiences allowed her to view the world differently and create bold figurative works using bold materials like wood.

"She definitely had this sense of confidence," the museum director adds, as he leans back in his chair.

Sirmans has wanted to work with the Warhol Museum for a long time. He started conversations with Beck at the Pittsburgh-based museum a few years ago.

"We talked about different ways of experiencing Warhol in our community as opposed to in Pittsburgh or somewhere," Sirmans explains. "We were looking at different bodies of work. We looked at different series of work."

Finally, the conversation led to an exhibition featuring Warhol and another influential artist of the time. "Marisol and Warhol Take New York" opened in Pittsburgh in October 2021, and Miami was always intended to be the second stop for the show.

"From a curatorial point of view, you're always looking for new ways to talk about things that already exist," Sirmans says, "and there are a lot of interesting stories to be told when you look at two artists together."

"Marisol and Warhol Take New York." On view April 14 through September 5, at Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-375-3000; pamm.org. Tickets cost $16.
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Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer for Miami New Times. She nurtured her love of words at Boston College before moving back home to Miami and has been covering arts and culture in the Magic City since 2013.