Marilyn Minter

United States 1948

Photography, Hyperrealism, Video Art

Marilyn Minter
Marilyn Minter
United States
December 16, 2014
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

It’s so rarely that you come across something visually overwhelming, and yet can’t take your eyes off of it. Lush paintings, photographs, and videos, created by Marilyn Minter, vividly manifest our culture’s complex and sometimes contradictory emotions around the feminine body and beauty. Her work is unique – over-sized close-up paintings (enamel on metal) of makeup-laden lips and eyes to soiled designer shoes, executed in the hyperrealist manner, photographs shot through the wet glass and her broadly popular videos, all leading to Minter being embroiled in controversies over the relationship of her art to feminism, fashion, and celebrity from the start of her career.

Marilyn Minter - Bottle Blonde #2, 2006 (Left) - Dribble (Wangechi Mutu), 2010 (Right), like, projects, contact, pink, press, shows, privacy
Marilyn Minter – Bottle Blonde #2, 2006 (Left) / Dribble (Wangechi Mutu), 2010 (Right)


Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Minter grew up in Florida, where she lived with her mother. Her interest in art was apparent from an early age, as she began drawing at five years old. Once a beautiful woman, who really cared about the way she looked, her mother became addicted to drugs and played a significant role in the artist’s formative years. Minter taught herself to draw Brenda Starr, and would spend her time just drawing all day long. Even at school, she would barely get by, as all she wanted to do was drawing. It was the 60’s, and Minter went to art school, where, as she states, the only truth was Abstract Expressionism. Pop Art and Conceptual art were swiftly dismissed, but she felt drawn to Warhol and the Factory. The decision to major in photography came after earning a C in painting, but getting an A in photography. During the 70’s, she was in New York, fighting for civil rights and the war in Vietnam. Shutting down the Pentagon, she rather worked for progressive politicians. Speaking of feminism and reproductive rights, she found herself in Washington more than once, marching for the cause.

The title role in artist’s formative year belonged to her drug addicted mother

Marilyn Minter - Wet Kiss, 2014 (Left) - XOXO, 2015 (Right), contact, like, shows, press 2009, 2016, artist, museum, project, york
Marilyn Minter – Wet Kiss, 2014 (Left) / XOXO, 2015 (Right)

Related Artists and Influences

Some of her best friends are widely known artists – Laurie Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Wangechi Mutu, Mika Rottenberg and Mary Heilmann. Minter also knows a lot more young women artists simply because she goes to them and tells them how great she thinks they are. James Rosenquist is a major inspiration and was her idol in college. Threads of both his and the work of Andy Warhol are all through her work. Messier than them, and a lot wetter, she takes a female perspective, differentiating from her role-models. Minter’s attraction to wet things led to the liquid being prevalent in her works. As she states: “Whenever I’m shooting, I want a wet model. It happened from the very beginning. People start sweating, and they get better looking somehow, sexier or a little more interesting.” The bit of distortion it adds helps in breaking the illusion of perfection.

The influences of a variety of other people are evident – from Chuck Close’s Photorealism, Minimalism seen in the work of Sylvia Plimack Mangold, famous clown created by Bruce Nauman, Sigmar Polke‘s half-tones, still-life painted by Janet Fish, to Mike Kelley’s animal sculptures. Also, Jeff Koons and Minter shared a similar fate after including elements of porn in their work and were both kicked out of the world of art in the early nineties. The puppy was his way back, but Minter “earned her forgiveness” through a much more intimate body of work – the photographs of her mother, created back in 1969.

Her work is related to many contemporary artists, and their influence is evident

Marilyn Minter - Mom in Wig, 1969 (Left) - Mom Making Up, 1969 (Right), images from Coral Ridge Towers series 2009 projects
Marilyn Minter – Mom in Wig, 1969 (Left) / Mom Making Up, 1969 (Right), images from Coral Ridge Towers series

Pretty/Dirty and the Selection of Artworks

Pretty/Dirty is a retrospection of a career that has spanned more than thirty years. A careful section that included more than 25 paintings, 3 videos and several photographs portray her career in depth, leaving nothing out. Some of the pieces that were included are: Little Girls #1 (1986), from her monumentally-sized series from the mid-1980s titled Big Girls, Little GirlsBig Girls, (from the same series) was also on display; Blue Poles (2007), undoubtedly one of Minter’s most famous paintings, portraying a clearly beautiful face and at the same time revealing the flaws – a pimple, the freckles and the errant eyebrow hairs. Minter’s fascination with the fashion industry (and one more proof to her connection with Warhol) is a piece titled Dirty Heel (2008), where we can see a close up of a woman’s dirty heel accessorized by an expensive looking pink-lined high-heeled shoe. The exhibition was co-organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and co-curated by Bill Arning and Elissa Auther.

Pretty/Dirty is a retrospection of a career that has spanned more than thirty years

Marilyn Minter - Blue Poles, 2007 (Left) - Dirty Heel, 2008 (Right)
Marilyn Minter – Blue Poles, 2007 (Left) / Dirty Heel, 2008 (Right)

Planned Parenthood

More than $2.5 million was raised by Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, and Marilyn Minter, as the three of them sold their pieces at the Sotheby’s auction. Afterwards, Minter was honored at the Planned Parenthood Women of Valor ceremony. Interested in raising more money for the cause, she thought they need to find a young spokesperson, and shortly after, none other than Miley Cyrus was on board, and the two of them collaborated on a series of prints, whose sale also benefits the organization. Marc Jacobs, a famous fashion designer, joined the team, and he agreed to sell Marilyn x Miley tees for $50 each. This campaign for Planned Parenthood was just a continuation of Minter’s long history of fighting for her beliefs (reproductive rights in this case), making her criticized and loved at the same time, for both her art and her social engagements.

She is represented by Markowicz Fine Art in Miami, Me Collectors Room in Berlin and Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art in Miami.

Marilyn Minter lives and works in New York.

Featured image: Marilyn Minter – portrait, photo credits Nadya Wasylko
All other images courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2016Marilyn MinterBrooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NYSolo
2016Marilyn MinterOrange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CASolo
2016Wall to Wall: Carpets by ArtistsMoCA Cleveland, Cleveland, OHGroup
2015I’m not much but I’m all that I think aboutContemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, MO; travels to Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO and Contemporary Art Museum, St. LouisSolo
2015Tightrope Walk: Painted Images After AbstractionWhite Cube, Bermondsey, London, UKGroup
2015No Man’s Land: Women Artists from the Rubell Family CollectionRubell Family Collection, Miami, FLGroup
2015Ten Year AnniversaryGavlak Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2015Mistakes Were MadeKyiv Biennial, Kyiv, UkraineGroup
2015Enchanted SpaceFridman Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2015Pretty Raw: After and Around Helen FrankenthalerRose Art Museum, Waltham, MAGroup
2014Queensize: Female Artists from the Olbricht CollectionBerlin, GermanyGroup
2014Killer Heels: The Art of the High Heeled ShoeBrooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2014Look At Me: Portraiture From Manet To The PresentLeila Heller Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2014She Was a Film Star Before She Was My MotherDorsky Curatorial Programs, Long Island City, NYGroup
2014Bash 1Kleinert/James Gallery, Woodstock, NYGroup
2014NYC Makers OpenMuseum of Arts and Design, New York, NYGroup
2014Gola, Art and Science of TastePalazzo d’Accursio in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna ItalyGroup
2014Gola, Art and Science of TasteLa Triennale, Milan ItalyGroup
2014Pace Gems: Selections from the Linda Pace Foundation Permanent CollectionThe Linda Pace Founation Gallery, San Antonio, TXGroup
2014More MaterialSalon 94 Bowery, New York City, NYSolo
2014GorgeousAsian Art Museum, San Francisco, CAGroup
2014Le Mur, La collection Antoine de GalbertLa Maison Rouge, ParisGroup
2014SurfaceGalleries at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, MAGroup
2014Bad ConscienceMetro Pictures Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013Marilyn MinterRegen Projects, Los Angeles, CASolo
2013DesireYancey Richardson Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013Skin Trade An In-depth Look At The Surface Of ThingsPPOW, New York City, NYGroup
2013The Cat ShowWhite Columns, New York City, NYGroup
2013Big PicturesAmon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TXGroup
2013Flow, Just Flow: Variations on a ThemeJoel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art - University of Richmond, Richmond, VAGroup
2012Marilyn Minter - I'm Not Much, But I'm All I Think AboutContemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, Raleigh, NCSolo
201214th Post Cards From The EdgeCheim & Read, New York City, NYGroup
2012Caverne CinémaFRAC - Limousin, LimogesGroup
2012PrivatSchirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/MainGroup
2012Memories of the future, The Olbricht CollectionLa Maison Rouge, ParisGroup
2012Bad For YouShizaru Gallery, LondonGroup
2012Pretty UglyMills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MAGroup
2011Paintings from the 80steam (gallery, inc.), New York City, NYSolo
2011Luxury and DegradationGalerie Tanit, MunichGroup
2011Surface/tensionYoung Projects, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2011Look into my eyesMitterrand+cramer / art advisory, GenevaGroup
2010EAT ME!Postmasters Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2010One Minute BeautyGalerie Tanit, MunichGroup
2010CollisionThe RISD Museum - University of Rhode Island, Providence, RIGroup
2010The naked truthHous Projects, New York City, NYGroup
2010Think PinkGavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FLGroup
2009Marilyn Minter: Chewing ColorCAC - Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OHSolo
2009Marilyn Minter - Green Pink CaviarSalon 94 Freemans, New York City, NYSolo
2009The Audio ShowFriedrich Petzel Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2009The Female Gaze: Women Look At WomenCheim & Read, New York City, NYGroup
2009LoverOn Stellar Rays, New York City, NYGroup
2009Fried SweatLe Case d'Arte, MilanGroup
2008Objects of ValueMAM - Miami Art Museum, Miami, FLGroup
2008Shoes!Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FLGroup
2006Marilyn Minter: PhotographsBaldwin Gallery, Aspen, COSolo
2005New Work - Marilyn MinterSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA, San Francisco, CASolo
2004Marilyn Minter: New Paintings & PhotographsBaldwin Gallery, Aspen, COSolo
1998Marilyn Minter - IndexThe Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, StockholmSolo