Marilyn Minter says that she hates political correctness, so you won’t find any in her work.
Early Life and Education
Marilyn Minter was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1948 and raised in Florida by her drug addicted mother. When Minter was a student at the University of Florida, in the 1960s, she produced a series of photographs of her mother. Minter said that when she showed the photographs to her class, and saw their reactions, “waves of shame swept over me” and she didn’t show them again until 1995.
During Minter’s difficult childhood, she taught herself to draw by tracing pictures of princesses and comic strip heroines, and sketching in the books that were in the house because she didn’t always have access to paper.
Minter received her Masters of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse, University and moved to Manhattan in 1976, to pursue her career as an artist.
Minter first grappled with the role of political correctness in art in 1989, when she produced a series of hardcore pornographic images, meant to explore the use of those images by women. The works did not go over well with either critics or the public, at a time when New Kids on the Block and The Cosby Show were the new radical.
Tempering her visuals, but not her style or sensibility, Minter produced a video to promote her 100 Food Porn exhibit at the Simon Watson Gallery. In an unprecedented move by an artist, she bought 30-second slots on David Letterman, Arsenio Hall and Nightline, at a cost of $1800 a slot to advertise the show.
Minter’s subjects and style are about glamour, high fashion and how they affect us. “When I think about my work, I mostly think about the paradox that goes on when you look at these images,” Minter said, in a 2015 interview, “How much pleasure glamour gives us but at the same time, how we know we’ll never look like that, and even [models] don’t look like that. There’s this constant distortion that’s happening between all of us—men and women—there’s a sense of failure. But at the same time, all of this pleasure.”
Many of Minter’s models are shown with flaws… like dirty feet, freckles, armpit hair and other features that are considered distasteful by first-world societal standards. Her video Green Pink Caviar, done in 2009, was shown in the lobby of MoMA for more than a year. She’s done ad campaigns for Jimmy Choo, Tom Ford and M.A.C. Cosmetics.
Her first retrospective opened in April 2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston. Titled Pretty/Dirty, the exhibit is scheduled to travel around the U.S. for two years.
Minter lives and works in New York. She teaches the MFA program at the School of Visual Arts.