Test your knowledge with a quiz
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.
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: