Artist: Marisol (Escobar)
American (born France), 1930-2016
Title: The Party
Medium: Assemblage with 15 figures and 3 wall panels painted and carved wood, mirror, plastic, television set, clothes, shoes, glasses and other accessories 1956-66
Location: Toledo Museum of Art
When you think of the word "party", what do you think of? Many people associate this with positive thoughts and excitement, but for others this word may create anxiety. Thoughts pertaining to a party creates emotion, which the artist Marisol explores in her installation ...
I first viewed this installation by Marisol in the fall of 2007 and visited it again recently. Although I have only seen this artwork twice in person, it is something that I always go back to again in my mind. My first reaction when I saw this installation was there was a sense of fun. The life size figures were together in a social interaction, adorned in colorful dresses, and elegant accessories. One figure is holding a tray of cocktails, ready to serve the guests at any moment. Another first impressions of this installation made me think of my family and my own social interactions. Growing up there were countless times my mom, aunts, grandma, and even great grandma would throw a party for everyone to get together to celebrate. This made me feel nostalgic for those times.
However, when viewing anything at a certain level you must remove your past experiences. After I started looking at the sculptures in more detail, I found there was more to the installation than my initial reaction of simple fun and nostalgia. There was also something cold and stiff. The figures at the party all face the viewer; they are not facing each other and do not seem to be in the act of socializing. Although they are together in one place, they are also isolated. With even further observation, the viewer sees there is one portrait that repeats among the figures. Why is this the case? Was this someone playing out different roles that exist in a social situation? Come to find out, it is a self-portrait of the artist - whether a cast, photo, or carved sculpture. The installation seems to question how some may conform to be accepted, but the importance of staying true to our identity and self expression.
Ending questions for self thought:
“I never wanted to be a part of society. I have always had a horror of the schematic, of conventional behavior. All my life I have to wanted to be distant, not to be like anyone else. I feel uncomfortable with the established codes of conduct." Marisol