Marilyn Minter

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Marilyn Minter
Born1948 (age 73–74)
EducationUniversity of Florida, Syracuse University
Known forPhotography, Painting

Marilyn Minter (born 1948) is an American visual artist who is perhaps best known for her sensual paintings and photographs done in the photorealism style that blur the line between commercial and fine art.[1][2] Minter currently teaches in the MFA department at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.[3][4]

Early life and education

Minter was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1948.[1] She was raised in Florida.[5]

In 1970 she attained a BFA from the University of Florida in Gainesville.[6] In 1972 she received an MFA in painting from Syracuse University.[6]


Her photographs and works often include sexuality and erotic imagery.[1] Minter's process begins by staging photoshoots with film. She eschews digital manipulation, instead favoring a conventional darkroom process for developing stills. She does not crop or digitally manipulate her photographs. Her paintings, on the other hand, are made by combining negatives in photoshop to make a whole new image. This new image is then turned into paintings created through the layering of enamel paint on aluminum. Minter and her assistants work directly from this newly created digital image. The last layer is applied with fingertips to create a modeling or softening of the paintbrush lines.[7]


Minter's career began while she was a student at the University of Florida, where she created a series of photographic studies involving her drug-addicted mother with the guidance of Diane Arbus.[8] Minter later moved to New York City in 1976, after earning a master of fine arts degree at Syracuse University, and began collaborating with the German expressionist painter Christof Kohlhofer.[8] Through the 1980s, she explored Pop-derived pictures often incorporating sexuality, setting the tone for many of her works.[7] Although their joint work gained critical acclaim, when their 1984 and 1986 shows at the Gracie Mansion gallery were not commercially successful, Kohlhofer and Minter parted ways.[9]

In 1989 Minter questioned the subject matter of women artists, and why women did not address pornography in their work.[10] The result of Minter's exploration is Porn Grid, a series of 4 panels each showcasing in graphic detail scenes of the act of fellatio, one performed by a mustachioed male, in ben-day dots like the magnified colors from the funny pages, the imagery largely obtained from "men's magazines."[11][12]  The feminist community did not embrace her work.[10][12][13][14] She was initially accused of being in collusion with the porn industry when in fact, Minter was pushing the boundaries of the kind of work women artists could create.[10] Minter told Artforum in 2015 "I was shocked by the negative reaction to those works at the time. I was accused of being complicit in sexism and was stunned by the idea that a woman owning sexual imagery could be taken so negatively."[12] Minter is quick to point out that sexually provocative imagery carries negative blowback for young women artists in particular.  "If you’re a young woman artist and you’re working with sexual imagery, it makes people crazy. But they’ll love it if you’re old."[12]

In 1990, Minter produced her first video, 100 Food Porn, shot and directed by NY documentary filmmaker Ted Haimes. This video was used as a television advertisement to promote her exhibition at the Simon Watson Gallery in New York.[8] Minter used the gallery's art advertising budget to buy 30 second slots on Late Night with David Letterman in lieu of traditional print advertising, becoming the first artist to advertise an artists' exhibition on late night television.[8] Through the 1990s she refined her works. While still having pornographic undertones, they began to exude a sense of glamour and high-fashion. In 1998, Minter received a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for Fine Arts.[15]

In 2003, she was in the exhibition 4 Walls, 8 Views at the Arena Gallery founded by Art curator Renee Riccardo[16] in New York, NY. In 2005 Minter had a solo exhibition, titled New Work: Marilyn Minter, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, focused on hyperrealistic close-ups of seemingly glamorous images, including makeup-laden lips, eyes, and toes.[17] The following year Minter was featured in the Whitney Bienniale, and in a partnership with Creative Time, was given ad space on four billboards in Manhattan's Chelsea district. The billboards presented photographs of high heels kicking around in dirty water, and stayed up for a month.

Minter's first retrospective monograph was published in 2007. Her book involved a heavy gloss, multi-colored paper making it feel almost wet, setting the book apart. This same year, she had shows in Sweden, the U.K., Spain, and France. In 2007, Minter also produced a series of photographs of the actress Pamela Anderson, commissioned by the art quarterly Parkett.[18]

In 2008, Minter collaborated with international skate/street wear brand Supreme to produce three limited edition skate decks. In 2009 she produced the video Green Pink Caviar.[19] Lush and sensual, the video depicts a series of tongues, covered in candy, that "paint" across a glass surface.[19] The video was later shown in Times Square in New York City.[1] Excerpts of the video were used as the backdrop for the opening song in Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour.[20] In 2010 the video was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art.[6]

In 2014, Minter published a 500 limited edition book called PLUSH, which is a compilation 70 photographs of female pubic hair.[21] In April 2015 Marilyn Minter opened her first major retrospective at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.[22] This exhibition is made up of paintings from between 1976 and 2013.[23] The exhibit is titled Pretty/Dirty, and includes some of her early work, such as Little Girls #1 and Big Girls from her collection Big Girls/Little Girls. Minter's Pretty/Dirty exhibition is the first time all of these pieces of work can be seen together in one museum. The exhibit was co-curated by Bill Arning and Elissa Auther.[23] This collection travelled around the nation until 2017, including the Orange County Museum of Art, near Los Angeles.[24] This retrospective display of her work incorporated many different developmental stages of her career.

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty was also presented by the Brooklyn Museum, from November 4, 2016 – May 7, 2017.[25] The exhibition was part of A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, a series of exhibitions and public programs presenting various perspectives on the history of feminism and feminist art, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.[26]

Since the beginning of her career Minter published in numerous popular American magazines and networks. She most recently she began creating enamel on metal paintings with a signature silver liquid.[27] Some of Minter's past exhibitions have centered around up close images of flaws, cracked feet, glitter, glam,[28] and all them incorporate a layered look that draws the eyes attention with its depth.[29]

In 2018 Minter collaborated with For Freedoms, an artist-run platform for civic engagement, to create a billboard poster for the 50 State Initiative, a major billboard campaign that aims to encourage political participation and voting. Displayed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Minter's billboard resembles graffiti, with the word “sad!” in red, blue, and purple spray paint. Minter intended for her billboard to criticize Donald Trump, stating, "I couldn’t be political, but I would have been really aggressive if I could...This is as mild as I could get. Taking one of his signature words and trying to re-purpose it into a really sad-looking word."[30]

The 50 State Initiative was deeply personal to Minter. She stated, “I think it’s important for everyone to get involved, not just artists. If you’re not upset, you’re not awake,” she said. “I just can’t tolerate injustice, but who can? I just don’t ignore it, and that’s really it.”[30]

Minter's work was included in the 2022 exhibition Women Painting Women at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.[31]

Select exhibitions

Minter has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including:


Minter is represented by the following galleries: Salon94 in New York, Regen Projects in Los Angeles, and Baldwin Gallery in Aspen.[4]


  • Marilyn Minter, Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2007 ISBN 978-0-9743648-6-5


  1. ^ a b c d "The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation". The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  2. ^ Myers, Marc (March 8, 2022). "Artist Marilyn Minter Turned to the Brush and Camera to Escape Childhood Woes". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 4, 2022. (subscription required)
  3. ^ "Marilyn Minter in 'Modern Painters' Magazine". School of Visual Arts. April 12, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  4. ^ a b 50 contemporary women artists : [groundbreaking contemporary art from 1960 to now]. Gosslee, John,, Zises, Heather,, Sackler, Elizabeth A. Atglen, PA. 2018. ISBN 9780764356537. OCLC 1064676444.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Viladas, Pilar (February 9, 2017). "Inside Marilyn Minter's Colorful, Irrepressible, Art-Filled Hideaway in the Woods". W. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "Marilyn Minter CV", Salon 94, Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b Robert Ayers (July 26, 2007), Marilyn Minter, ARTINFO, retrieved April 23, 2008
  8. ^ a b c d Ghorashi, Hannah (February 4, 2016). "'I Want Women to Look Like They Can't Get Thrown Away': Marilyn Minter on Her Retrospective, 'Pretty/Dirty'". Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  9. ^ Mallory Curley, A Cookie Mueller Encyclopedia, pp. 265–266
  10. ^ a b c Smith, Roberta (November 10, 2016). "A 'Nasty Woman' of Contemporary Art Fearlessly Renders the Body". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  11. ^ Pollack, Maika (January 25, 2017). "Shattering the Gold Ceiling". Aperture. Retrieved April 9, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ a b c d Fialho, Alex. "Marilyn Minter talks about her touring retrospective". Retrieved April 9, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Munro, Cait (September 17, 2015). "Marilyn Minter Interview on Envy and Arbus". Artnet News. Retrieved April 9, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Boyd, Kealey (January 14, 2016). "Marilyn Minter's Dirty Visions of Foods, Faces, and Feet". Hyperallergic. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  15. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Marilyn Minter". Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  16. ^ "BIO". Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  17. ^ a b "New Work: Marilyn Minter". SFMOMA. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  18. ^ "Marilyn Minter | "Pamela Anderson", 2007 | (for Parkett 79)". PARKETT books and editions on contemporary art. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  19. ^ a b "Marilyn Minter – Green Pink Caviar, 2009". Cranbrook Art Museum. April 24, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  20. ^ Bernstein, Jacob (January 21, 2017). "Madonna and Marilyn Minter Discuss Art and Protest". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  21. ^ "PLUSH", Artist's website, Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Marilyn Minter on Her First Major Retrospective". Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  23. ^ a b "Pretty/Dirty". CAMH. Contemporary Art Museum Houston. Archived from the original on April 5, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  24. ^ Knight, Christopher (April 23, 2016). "Review: Marilyn Minter's 'Pretty/Dirty' show allures and repulses all at the same time". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 19, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  25. ^ Stamler, Hannah (February 1, 2017). "Marilyn Minter Pretty/Dirty". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  26. ^ Smith, Roberta (November 10, 2016). "A 'Nasty Woman' of Contemporary Art Fearlessly Renders the Body". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  27. ^ Harris, Malcolm. "Women in Art: Marilyn Minter". Huffington Post Arts & Culture. The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  28. ^ Vartanian, Ivan; Crump, James; Steele, Valerie; Blanks, Tim; Delamore, Philip; Bruzzi, Stella (2011). High Heels. Goliga. ISBN 978-1-935202-69-1.
  29. ^ Glentzer, Molly. "Artist Marilyn Minter finds truth more beautiful than Photoshop". Houston Chronicle. The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  30. ^ a b Vanderhoof, Erin. "The Striking Election-Season Billboards That Are Also Art". Vanities. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  31. ^ "Women Painting Women". Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  32. ^ "Marilyn Minter: Chewing Color", Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati, Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  33. ^ "Marilyn Minter: Orange Crush, by Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland". Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  34. ^ "Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty". Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Retrieved April 4, 2022.

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