Marilyn Minter’s highly anticipated traveling retrospective, Pretty/Dirty, opened recently at CAM Houston. For those who can’t make it to Texas and don’t want to wait until the exhibition arrives at the Brooklyn Museum this fall, we recommend Gregory R. Miller & Co.’s outstanding exhibition catalog. Featuring work from every period of the artist’s forty-year career, this book is a star. In addition to copious reproductions, it features contributions by Bill Arning, Elissa Auther, Eileen Myles, Nick Flynn, Jenni Sorkin, Colby Keller, Neville Wakefield, K8 Hardy, Richard Hell, Catherine Morris and Linda Yablonsky, who asks Minter about the grotesque in her work. Minter responds, “The way I was thinking about it was that if you get in close enough, you get rid of narrative. I was going for the least amount of information that can still have lots of power. Multiple readings. Like when you pull your socks down and there are those lines in your legs. Things like that really interest me. Everyone knows about it, but no one’s ever made an image of it. I notice these things. I notice graffiti. I notice what the ads look like underneath it. I notice that sweat makes people look sexier. I’ve always been fascinated by details, so I’m not telling people what to think, but I still have content. Multiple meanings, multiple reads. That’s all I’m interested in—metaphor and paradox.”
Marilyn Minter is famed for her glossy, hyper-realistic paintings, photographs and video works—seductive images that borrow the language of fashion and advertising photography, exploring the boundaries of desire, sensuality and body anxiety in the age of consumption. Close-up imagery of mouths, feet, splashes and puddles, rendered in high-gloss enamel on sheets of metal, subversively questions the pathology of glamour.
Produced in conjunction with the first major museum retrospective on her work, Pretty/Dirty examines every period of the artist’s 40-year career, from her beginnings with the controversial porn paintings, initially rejected by the critical establishment, to her later large-scale photorealistic works. Essays from the exhibition’s curators examine the trajectory of Minter’s development and her engagement with debates over the representation of the female body.
Texts from musicians, artists, writers and curators speak to Minter’s wide-ranging influence: reflections from the likes of artist K8 Hardy, musician and author Richard Hell, and poet Eileen Myles, as well as an artist interview with writer Linda Yablonsky. Illustrated with hundreds of full-color reproductions, and with a complete biography and bibliography, Pretty/Dirty charts a new perspective on the career of this exciting and continually evolving artist.
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Marilyn Minter (born 1948) has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, at venues including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2005, the Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, in 2009 and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, in 2010. Her video “Green Pink Caviar” was exhibited in the lobby of MoMA for over a year, and was also shown on digital billboards on Sunset Boulevard in LA, and the Creative Time MTV billboard in Times Square, New York.