Marisol Gifted Her Entire Estate to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The Buffalo museum is now the go-to source for understanding the work of the late Pop Art trailblazer.

Marisol estate
Portrait of French-born artist Marisol Escobar poses with some of her carved wooded sculptures. New York, New York, 1958. Courtesy Walter Sanders/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.

The late artist Marisol—who was once dubbed by fellow artist Rolando Peńa the “undisputed queen of pop art”—left her entire estate to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. This is a major win for the museum, which describes the gift as the largest in its history.

In addition to 100 sculptures, the museum has been bequeathed more than 150 works on paper, thousands of photographs and slides, Marisol’s archive, library, tools, and her TriBeCa home and studio. The museum will create an online archive for the works and build a dedicated gallery for highlights of the bequest as part of its planned expansion. The artist’s TriBeCa home and studio will be sold to help fund the ambitious project, which is due to open in 2021.

Marisol was born María Sol Escobar in Paris in 1930. She is best known for sculptural works that combine folk art, Dada, and Surrealism and explore the social role of women in the 1960s. The artist also gained a reputation for her beauty and persona. The New York Times refers to a 1965 description of the “Marisol legend,” defined by “her chic, bones-and-hollows face,” “glossy black hair,” “mysterious reserve,” and “faraway, whispery voice.”

Marisol retouching The Generals at the Albright-Knox in November 1963. Courtesy Albright-Knox Art Gallery Digital Assets Collection and Archives, Buffalo, New York. © Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Before she passed away in April 2016 at the age of 85, she had long held ties with the Albright-Knox. It was the first institution to acquire one of her works: a 1963 sculpture called The Generals. Now, a new gallery slated to open in autumn 2021 will be named in Marisol’s honor in recognition of the bequest.

Though she enjoyed moderate success throughout her career, it was not until later in life that Marisol gained significant recognition. According to the artnet Price DatabaseThe Cocktail Party (in 15 parts), a work completed between 1965 and 1966, sold for $912,000 at Sotheby’s New York in 2005.

In 2014, the Museo del Barrio was the first New York museum to present a one-person exhibition of Marisol’s work, and was the first retrospective to show works on paper alongside her sculptures.

The Albright-Knox’s director Janne Sirén said in a statement, “We are moved, and profoundly grateful, that Marisol…took the extraordinary step of leaving her estate to our museum.”


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