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Marisol, The Party
- The booming economy and mass media of the 1950s popularized an American ideal of the middle-class lifestyle, where conspicuous consumption promised happiness and status. Yet, many women were increasingly frustrated by expectations to conform to socially constructed gender roles.
- Marisol’s The Party suggests a social gathering, but emphasizes a sense of disconnect and isolation. The blocks of wood confine her figures and suggest an overpowering loneliness, even as they are gathered together and surrounded with convivial details. Marisol used her own face for each figure, wanting to create a larger social commentary without criticizing specific people.
- Marisol has been overlooked by art history, in part because her work is difficult to place within any specific style or movement. Working at the height of Abstract Expressionism, she opted to focus on the human figure. Her bright colors and recognizable subjects are similar to Pop Art, but her social critique and emphasis on the personal and handmade stand apart.
This sculpture at the Toledo Museum of Art
Read Marisol’s 2016 obituary in The New York Times.
Learn more about Marisol’s connection to Andy Warhol and Pop Art in the 1960s.
Learn about Betty Friedan’s 1963 publication The Feminine Mystique that described the discontent experienced by many women in the late 1950s.
Learn more about the Equal Rights Amendment through primary source documents
Read about the current status of the Equal Rights Amendment
More to think about
Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, which was painted in 1943, shows a woman who has broken from traditional gender norms. How does Marisol’s depiction of the female figure in The Party—made 20 years later—differ from Rosie?
Smarthistory images for teaching and learning: