Ever since I saw the Adbusters (I know) cover of a dirty foot in a jewel encrusted six inch heel, I have been in love with Marilyn Minter’s work. She has built her name on explicit, visually arresting paintings and photographs. Close ups of gritty teeth with excess jewels seem to be less about making a statement and more about Minter having fun creating her photos.
I have always admired her portraits of Pamela Anderson. She takes a woman famous for being sexed up and doesn’t diminished her obvious sex appeal, but makes it her own. The result is a different kind of photograph of Anderson. She is fresh faced, personal, beautiful but perhaps less “attractive,” even though her her white tank is soaked in sweat and glitter. This is the perfect example of how Minter manages to touch on many different elements in art and commercialism. By not blending them, but noticing them, she creates something new.
I admire that her work is intentional. Each element of her photographs are harmonized in the tone she works with. Minter uses her medium to her advantage; her extreme close ups always have just a sliver of focus, and emit an energy that is vicious and almost alienating.
In both her video work and photographs, she uses an extreme high definition macro lens. Like her many of her photographs, my favorite, green pink caviar, is sexually expressive. What I find most interesting about Minter is that she doesn’t use sexuality in her work as shock value. You get the feeling it is supposed to be there. The other reason i love her is that her work is so visually pleasing, which in an age of modern conceptual art, can sometimes be the first thing that goes. Here, Minter goes visual first, then lets meaning come after. Perhaps she is commenting on the high culture of femininity, pairing dirty feat with jewel encrusted shoes, mouths crunching chains of diamonds. There is wrath there, or the seven deadly sins, but definitely notjust a pose for a fashion model.
Minter came on to the art scene in 1970. In the end of the 80s, she hit controversy by using imagery directly lifted from porn magazines. The 1990s say her “gradually refining her style” to the images we see here now, where they still suggest pornographic sexuality
When asked, “Are you celebrating glamour, or criticizing it?” Minter replied,
“Both. Because I think it’s a complex emotion when you look at glamorous pictures. I can’t say that everybody gets pleasure out of it, but I do, and allot of people I know get a lot of pleasure out of looking at the most glamorous pictures. But you’re constantly aware that you’re never going to look that good. So there are two feelings there, not just one, and I’m just trying to mirror that, to make a picture of what that feels like.”
Green Pink Caviar was on display at MOMA for over a year and was also shown in Times Square and billboards in LA. Yummy.
Solo exhibitions: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2005, the Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, OH in 2009, La Conservera, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Ceutí/Murcia, Spain in 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH in 2010 and the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany in 2011.