Marilyn Minter (b. 1948, Shreveport, LA; lives and works in New York, NY) creates photographs, painting, and videos that offer nuanced representations of women. Well known for her meticulous technical mastery, Minter’s details often highlight natural corporeal qualities that are omitted in mass-media depictions of women, such as body hair and stretch marks, which she deems not only authentic but also beautiful. In her early work, Minter explored erotica—most often images created by men for men—and created new versions of erotic images solely meant for female consumption as a means of reclaiming female sexuality and desire. This revolutionary act was met with serious criticism from leaders of the feminist movement who questioned the ability to reclaim such exploitative images. Nevertheless, Minter has unabashedly continued to advocate for women’s rights and reproductive freedoms, a stance, which for her, always includes women openly expressing their sexuality and desire—reclaiming the female body and subverting the historical objectification of women from the male gaze.
In addition to her commitment to challenging the historic portrayal of women through images, Minter’s work also reveals true mastery of her mediums. Her training in both photography and painting make her working process unique: for each painting she begins with a photograph or series of photographs, which serve as the basis for her larger compositions. Minter replicates the photograph in paint but makes subtle formal adjustments by altering the “focus” of the image, increasing the density of elements such as frost or steam through the use of layering thousands of colors, applying the photographic tenet of focus to the painting process. Likewise, Minter applies painterly approaches to her photography. By placing a glass surface between her models and the camera, she physically obscures the pictorial plane, skillfully introducing abstraction into the image. Through steadfast progressive values and a rigorous, time-consuming studio practice, Minter continues to reveal and revel in the exquisite reality of women’s bodies.
Minter received a B.F.A. from The University of Florida, Gainesville in 1970 and went on to obtain an M.F.A. from Syracuse University in 1972. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2020); Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2017); Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (2016); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (2015); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, MO (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO (2015); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (2011); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH (2010); Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2010); Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, OH (2009). Select group exhibitions featuring her work include On everyone’s lips. The oral cavity in art culture, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany (2020); In Focus, Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen, Denmark (2020); Read My Lips, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA (2019); Jewels in the Concrete, Ruby City, San Antonio, TX (2019); Like Sugar, The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (2019); COLOUR FORM TEXTURE, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (2018); Open Ended: Painting and Sculpture Since 1900, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (2018); Wall to Wall: Carpets by Artists, MoCA Cleveland, Cleveland, OH (2016); No Man’s Land: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Museum, Miami, FL (2015); traveled to National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (2017); Killer Heels: The Art of the High Heeled Shoe, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2014); NYC Makers Open, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY (2014); Pace Gems: Selections from the Linda Pace Foundation Permanent Collection, The Linda Pace Foundation Gallery, San Antonio, TX (2014); Riotous Baroque, Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland (2012); traveled to Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain (2013); Pink Caviar, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (2012); and Collection in Context: Lynda Benglis, John Chamberlain, Andy Warhol, and Marilyn Minter, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD (2010); among others.
Minter’s work is included in numerous public collections, including the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Blanton Museum of Fine Arts, Austin, TX; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Kunsthaus Museum, Zurich, Switzerland; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Boston, MA; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Perez Museum of Art, Miami, FL; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. She has received numerous honors and distinctions such as the Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant (2006); Guggenheim Fellowship (1998); New York Foundation for the Arts, Visual Arts Grant (1992); National Endowment for the Arts, Artist's Fellowship Grant (1989); and the New York Foundation for the Arts, Artist's Grant (1988).