Marilyn Minter: Chewing Color Contemporary Arts Center October 3 rd, 2009 – May 2 nd, 2010 Bazooka , 2009, enamel on metal, 74 x 114 inches PowerPoint by Kara Swami
Born in 1948, in Shreveport, Louisiana, Marilyn Minter is an artist living and working in New York City. In 1970, she received a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the University of Florida, then immediately completed her master’s degree in fine art at Syracuse University. Minter is best known for her enamel-on-steel paintings and vibrantly colored photographs depicting segmental shots of fashion models; however, her artistic turning point occurred much earlier one weekend in 1969, when she shot black and white photographs of her reclusive mother.
Coral Ridge Towers (Mom in Mirror) , 1969 Black-and-white photograph As an undergraduate, Minter shot her Coral Ridge Tower series, which includes nine black and white photographs of her mother. Minter notes that although her mother was a drug addict who rarely left the apartment, she consistently tried to attain beauty through wigs, hair dye, fake nails, and layers of make-up.
Minter was interested in the overdone and grotesque aspects of her mother’s glamour. The series captures a tranquil woman “beautifying” her appearance or often reclining in bed. With the exception of a visiting artist, Diane Arbus, Minter’s classmates were disturbed by the uncensored depictions of her mother; consequently, she was deeply embarrassed by her their feedback and did not bother printing the images until 1995. These images reflect her long-lived fascination with beauty rituals and foreshadow her current work that combines glamour with the grotesque and blurs the line between commercial and fine art. Coral Ridge Towers (Mom Making Up) , 1969 Black-and-white photograph
After college Minter moved to New York where she was an art teacher at a catholic boys school but continued to be involved in painting and photography. During the 1970s-1990s the subject matter of her artwork varied. For a while she painted realistic images of things on the floor. She also painted images she found in magazines, cookbooks or from her photographs. Spill , 1977 Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches “ I’m interested in images of things that are overlooked in the world—things that are real, but not flashy. I paint things nobody pays attention to, but that are nonetheless real.” -Marilyn Minter
Armani M&Ms , 1990 Enamel on canvas 96 x 72 inches
In the last decade she has begun to explore various media and methods of display. In 2002, she started hanging her paintings next to her photographs in hopes of challenging the separation traditionally imposed onto these two mediums by critics and historians. In 2006, she enlarged her photographs of muddied shoes onto billboards standing in New York City. New York City’s Chelsea Gallery District, 2006
New York City’s Chelsea Gallery District, 2006
Minter has also worked as a commercial photographer for various companies in the business industry, such as Tom Ford, Versace, and MAC. Many of her photographs displayed in galleries were shot during these commissioned photo shoots. Carefully look at these images and the ones shown on the next two slides. How do Minter’s recent photographs and paintings compare to advertisements? MAC Make-Up Advertisement, 2009 Glazed , 2006 Enamel on metal, 96 x 60 inches
Pop , displayed in the CAC’s current exhibition, was taken by Minter during her commercial photo shoot for Tom Ford. Why do you suppose Pop was discarded from the fashion campaign, but shown in galleries and museums? Tom Ford Ad Campaign, 2007 Pop , 2008 C-print, 86 x 60 inches
Similar to fashion advertisements, Minter photographs consumer objects, using soft focuses and deliberately cropped compositions. Additionally so, her glossy images evoke magazine ads that idealize the body. But these are only a few similarities. What are some other resemblances? Climber , 2005 C-Print, 50 x 36 inches
In between the takes of her commissioned MAC make-up shoot, Minter shot scenes that were later included in her recent video, Green Pink Caviar. In 2009, she played condensed versions both in New York’s Times Square and as a trailer in a few New York movie theaters—similarly, the video will be played in Cincinnati’s Fountain Square!
When Marilyn Minter takes a photograph the work happens fast. She doesn’t refer to light meters or take practice shots with other cameras. She works with a 35 mm and a medium format camera and gets right to work. Afterwards she immediately prints her favorite shots. Unlike fashion photography that relies so heavily on computer manipulations, she avoids pristine airbrushing or altering the photos in any way. She embraces the messiness, the accidental, or grotesque—features that are unmistakably human, such as blemishes, sweat, and mud stains. Chewing Pink , 2008 C-Print, 86 x 60 inches
Mudbath , 2006 Enamel on metal, 84 x 120 inches “ If you’re dancing in a disco all night your feet get dirty, even if you have the most expensive shoes on.” -Marilyn Minter
“ It’s in the moment when everything goes wrong. It’s when the model sweats, there’s lipstick on her teeth, and the makeup’s running.” -Marilyn Minter Vampire , 2004 C-print, 50 x 36 inches Similar to her classmates’ reactions to the photographs of her mother, some may find her honesty rather provocative or disturbing. However, Minter explains that the beauty lies in hidden or overlooked features, rather the censored or perfected.
After looking at some of Minter’s images, think about the questions below. How do the colors make you feel? Why do you think she uses these colors? Would these images be as powerful if she showed the whole body instead of just a section of the eye? Bottle Blonde , 2006 Enamel on metal, 24 x 26 inches
“ There’s always been an idea that art is supposed to educate or make you feel good about yourself. I don’t even know where that came from. I’m not trying to do anything at all except to be honest.” -Marilyn Minter