Friday, January 01, 2016

On The Way To Other Exhibits

We'll be going to the Currier Museum to see the Maxfield Parrish exhibit tomorrow, and will be taking the older granddaughter.  She has thought this sculpture in the Contemporary Art section to be funny in the past.  A "funny family," as an 8-year-old doesn't get that Marisol's work is a scathing indictment of the traditional family. 

Marisol Escobar’s The Family takes a satirical look at the American family of the 1960s. In this multi-figure, free-standing sculpture, a stylish mother smiles mindlessly with a pillbox hat pulled snugly over her eyes, literally blinded by her fashion accessory and distracted from attending to the four children that surround - and confine - her. The male head of this family stands adjacent to his wife and is the only figure attached to the wall, encased in a tomb-like wooden panel and physically isolated from his wife and children. The effect suggests the trappings of this man’s and woman’s place in society and creates a schism in the idealized family popularized in such mid-century media as the television show Leave it to Beaver. Marisol expands upon her witty take on the American family by putting child-sized adults in the baby carriage. The Family shows Marisol at her best, using humor to interrogate the reality behind the American Dream. In 1970 Time magazine featured The Family on its cover to illustrate "The U.S. Family: Help!", an article that lamented the demise of traditional family structures and shifting gender roles in contemporary America. Marisol’s focus on the complexities of post-WWII American society aligned with the interests of Pop artists, who incorporated imagery from popular culture and mined the new, postwar social, economic, and cultural landscape. While Marisol was in dialogue with a Pop aesthetic, and even starred in Andy Warhol’s film Kiss in 1963, she drew on a variety of artistic sources for inspiration, including Cubism and pre-Columbian and South American folk art. Marisol integrated these diverse influences and crafted her own distinct artistic language. Sculptor George Segal, Marisol’s contemporary, commented that "Marisol’s art has always had wit, but she’s dead serious. She brings a complexity to her work, which has a sobering gravity. She’s an original." Marisol’s original creations often feature self-portraits. In The Family, the centrally positioned daughter in a red dress carries a doll with Marisol’s face drawn on it. Other examples include The Wedding (1962), in which one Marisol marries another Marisol, and Dinner Date (1962), where one Marisol eats dinner with another Marisol. In The Party (1966), thirteen life-sized figures all have Marisol’s countenance. Marisol explained this repeated use of her self-portrait: "I did a lot of self-portraits then [1960s] because it was a time of searching for one’s identity. I looked at my faces, all different in wood, and asked, Who am I?"
Well, perhaps it was fresh and new in 1963, but I'm rather tired of that attitude by now.  Tell me, are there museum pieces that make fun of non-traditional families? One of those would start riots, I'll bet.


Sam L. said...

Scathing? Coulda fooled me. Not impressed with/by/about it. "Modern Art" becomes un-modern quickly, and I don't see it as art. Sticking it to the bourgeoisee does not count as art to me.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Then you clearly don't understand Real Art.

I note in the Currier's piece about her that Marisol seems to have spent a good deal of energy contemplating herself and her identity. It seems that much art since 1900 has been geared to "starting a conversation," usually one in which the artist and his best pals can go on at length about self.

I suspect Dali was one who was guilty of such self-absorption, but I have always liked his comment when asked if his TV thumbnails on thumbs in the desert was intended to convey that television is a vast wasteland. "No," he said "It's just thumbs. I like them."