Two of the sculptures in the Museo de Barrio's presentation of the relatively small but historic Marisol retrospective speak to the time and place of her birth; one is of Magritte who published his first essay in La Révolution surréaliste while she was in the womb,* and of whom she did numerous sculptures. Picasso is the other: one unintended link between this show and John Richardson's Picasso and the Camera is the depiction of underwater life, for just as she was becoming a hot art commodity in New York she disappeared to go scuba diving for a time - followed by other solitary meanderings - evidenced in this show by a large, smooth-edged fish. The Picasso show documents the influence of anarchist marine biologist Jean Painlevé around the time of Marisol's birth.
For me, speculation on the influence of Picasso on Marisol gets interesting when I wonder whether her given name, Maria Sol Escobar, was inspired by Picasso's Crucifixion finished several months before her birth, in advance of the Picasso issue of Documents which featured Bataille's essay "The Phantom Dawn," mentioning the Roman god Mithra - who "rode, and later killed, the life-giving cosmic bull, whose blood fertilizes all vegetation" then banquets with the Sun God. Picasso told Geneviève Laporte that he relished bullfights as they were the sole remaining ritual of Mihraism. Marisol's parents were wealthy Parisian art patrons and Documents was much discussed that Spring, coming out a month before her birth. Picasso would have likely discussed Bataille's essay with Michel Leiris before its publication. Mithra is the orange and red solar figure to the right of the cross (to the viewer)..
..in between three Marias: the Holy Mother in white before Christ, Marie-Thérèse Walter in the middle and the blue, skeletal head of Mary Magdalene below Mithra. The head of Stephaton to the left with his giant moon-like sponge "doubles as a crescent moon, an emblem of Virgin Mary." Marisol's parents hailed from Venezuela, whose first flag, flown on the mast of Francisco de Miranda's ship Leander in 1806, had on it a sun and a moon, the moon in this case symbolizing the Apollinian triumph over darkness.
Picasso's symbolic use of legs out of joint recurs in her primary later work on paper at El Museo, 1974's Lick the Tire of My Bicycle..
The bicycle precariously glides between pistols firing, perhaps reflecting the trauma over her mother committing suicide when she was eleven, leading to what she describes as ten years of total silence. The cyclist riding outside time and space is reminiscent of Duchamp's straining rider ascending a looped line on musical notation paper in 1914's To Have the Apprentice in the Sun**:
So if you are nearby the plants across the street in the Conservatory Gardens want you to keep them warm this Sunday. Within walking distance is her 30 foot long Self-Portrait Looking at The Last Supper at the Met, up til March. El Museo's collection has its enjoyable paintings but currently features
Nuyorican Conceptual works amid some interesting sculptures.
* Just before returning to Belgium when the gallery repping him in Paris closed.
** Given to Philly by Walter Arensberg but never displayed..