In her heyday, Marisol insistently incorporated casts of her own face or photographs in her sculptures, or images of her face formed in plastic, drawn in pencil, or carved straight from the block. She can appear as many as ten times, in ten different guises, in a single work of art. They give the most uncanny impression of presence, as though Marisol is hiding among her sculpted figures and might step out from behind them at any moment. Of course, she is never physically there. Marisol is present in her library, too, and in her photo albums, while also, maddeningly, never quite there.
“Para Marisol, con cariño”—“For Marisol, with love.” I saw this inscribed in more than one of Marisol’s books. Inscriptions abound in her books, in her letters, and on the backs of her photographs, with signatures like “Martha Graham” and “Robert Indiana.”
With each one of them, the cast of characters that populate the story of Marisol’s life and work comes, however blearily, into view. Others are scribbled so furiously that they’re illegible now. Nevertheless, each leaves a mark, like a handprint in Lascaux. Each signals the presence of another ghost, another story.