Philbrook Museum in Tulsa Acquires Marisol’s Portrait of Magritte

BY ANGELICA VILLA

Wooden sculpture of man holding umbrella
Marisol, Magritte II,, 1998.© MARISOL/PHILBROOK MUSEUM OF ART

A sculpture by Marisol, an artist who has been grouped in with the Pop art movement of the 1960s, found a home at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Magritte II (1998) is a nearly life-sized rendering of one of Marisol’s influences, the Surrealist artist René Magritte. The work will go on public view starting Wednesday, February 16.

Marisol, who died in 2016, gained recognition for creating irreverent sculptures out of reclaimed wood and found items. Often, these sculptures portrayed public figures and people with whom she had close personal ties. Throughout her career, she made works after other artists, including Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Willem de Kooning, and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Despite her close connections in the New York art scene, she has continued to go under-recognized in comparison to many of her peers.

In 1998, Marisol made a series of portraits of Magritte that satirized the Surrealist, who died in 1967. In each iteration, a truncated rendering of Magritte made from a wood plank shows the painter holding an open black umbrella and donning a bowler hat—symbols that recurred throughout his paintings. The group of works by Marisol, each slightly different from one another, were shown together in 1998 at New York’s Marlborough Gallery.

On the reverse of the sculpture, Marisol rendered a self-portrait. In a statement, Rachel Keith, the Philbrook’s deputy director of curatorial affairs, said that this gesture could be read as Marisol “putting her own signature on the work, but also making a very literal connection between herself an Magritte.”

Steve Heyman, the collections committee chair of the Phillbrooks board of trustees, said the acquisition “deepens our burgeoning collection of work by Latinx artists and adds dimensionality to the narrative of Pop art and 20th century avant-garde practices at Philbrook, joining work by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine de Kooning, and Morris Louis.”

In recent years, a host of museum shows have brought Marisol renewed attention. In 2014, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art organized a major survey of the artist’s work that drew critical acclaim. (That show also traveled to El Museo del Barrio in New York.) Last year, an exhibition mining the relationship between the Pop art sculptor and Andy Warhol, titled “Marisol and Warhol Take New York,” opened at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2020, Buffalo’s Albright-Knox museum appointed Julia Vázquez as a curatorial fellow to help steer a major exhibition and research initiative dedicated to Marisol, who posthumously gifted her vast estate to the museum in 2016.

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