Marisol: Works on Paper

Marisol preparing works for New Drawings and Wall Sculpture by Marisol, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, March 5–29, 1975. Photographic transparency. Marisol Papers, Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Digital Image: Amanda Smith, Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Marisol is of the most celebrated artists of the 1960s. Her formidable contributions to the world of sculpture at midcentury can be found in the collections of major museums across the United States. Although she was called a “forgotten star” of Pop art at her death in 2016, the historic bequest of her estate to the Buffalo AKG Art Museum has initiated extensive study of the artist. This research, along with a major touring retrospective (Marisol: A Retrospective, 2023–25), also organized by the Buffalo AKG, has done much to increase awareness of the breadth and significance of her artistic practice.

Marisol began drawing at an early age, and later recalled: 

“I always liked art before I thought it was art. I was always drawing, ever since I can remember.”

Two hands with long red/pink nails drawn with colored pencil and connected at the wrist
Marisol (Venezuelan and American, born France, 1930–2016), [Untitled], 1960. Colored pencil on paper, sheet: 18 1/2 x 13 3/8 inches (46.99 x 33.97 cm). Collection Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Bequest of Marisol, 2016 (2021:125). © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. 

She often began drawings by tracing her hands, feet, or other body parts and she often turned to making works on paper when she wished to ground herself or understand her place in the world. To date, however, no publication foregrounds Marisol’s works on paper, the reputation of which has been overshadowed by her sculptures. This website seeks to remedy this gap for researchers by providing unequaled access to Marisol’s drawing and printmaking practice. To create it, nearly all of the more than five hundred works on paper in the museum’s care have been researched, catalogued, conserved, and photographed from 2022 to 2023 and are now shared here. 

This site is the latest significant resource the museum has developed to further research on Marisol. It offers scholars and members of the public the first ever opportunity to explore every phase of Marisol's artistic practice through her works on paper. Most of these have never before been published, and a great many of them were never seen outside of the artist’s studio. The group comprises works ranging from preliminary mockups for her monumental sculptures to deeply personal, even confessional drawings (many of which are the subject of a new essay by Andrea Alvarez, Associate Curator, who has contributed new research to the project overall), to drawings made in her later years when she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. These reveal a remarkable continuity of subject matter and technique, from her earliest works on paper to her last. The group showcases her extraordinary skill with mediums including collage, watercolor, pastels, and a wide range of printmaking techniques including etching and lithography. 

This project would not have been possible without the leadership and generous support of the Getty Foundation through The Paper Project Initiative, which helped make it possible to fully examine, catalogue, conserve, and research Marisol’s works on paper in the museum’s care, as well as make those works accessible here. This gift of time and deep engagement with Marisol’s works on paper has informed our understanding of the artist’s practice and we are deeply grateful for their support.

Read The Artist Is Still Speaking: Reading and Listening to Marisol’s Inscribed Drawings, by Andrea Alvarez, PhD. 

Marisol: Works on Paper

A drawing from colored pencil of a man's face with traced hands surrounding his face in shades of black, pink, green, and yellow, and the name "Marisol" written over his mouth
Marisol (Venezuelan and American, born France, 1930–2016), Cultural Head, 1973. Lithograph, sheet: 28 1/2 x 22 inches (72.39 x 55.88 cm). Collection Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Bequest of Marisol, 2016 (P2021:16). © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

This research initiative was made possible through the leadership and generous support of The Getty Foundation through The Paper Project Initiative. It is the result of exceptional efforts by the museum’s Art Preparation, Imaging & Visual Resources, and Registration departments. The Art Preparation team is brilliantly overseen by Ryan McDaniel. Kelly Carpenter, Imaging, Visual Resources, and Digital Assets Manager, led the exceptional work of Collections and Exhibitions Photographer Brenda Bieger and Collections Digitization Specialist Amanda Smith in photographing, preparing, and organizing the images of the collections for this project. The transporting, unpacking, and conditioning these works would not have been possible without our colleagues in Registration. Laura Fleischmann, former Senior Registrar for the Collection and Catherine Scrivo Baker, former Registrar contributed extraordinary work on this project. Denise Mahoney, Head Registrar, has been invaluable in leading the team more recently. Thanks to Andrea Alvarez, Associate Curator, Holly E. Hughes, Godin Spaulding Senior Curator for the Collection, and Gabrielle Carlo, Archivist. This project began because of the leadership of Julia Vázquez, former Curatorial Fellow, and her contributions were extensive. Finally, none of this would have been accomplished without two individuals: Natalie McGrath, Fine Art Cataloguer, who has spent years researching Marisol’s works, and creating records in the museum’s database and Melissa Ellis, Assistant Registrar who has managed the entire project over the last fourteen months with skill, patience, tenacity, and grace.

– Cathleen Chaffee, Charles Balbach Chief Curator 


Marisol: Works on Paper is made possible with support from Getty through its Paper Project Initiative.