Artist Marilyn Minter on Depicting Female Sexuality

In this episode of Broadly Meets, host Lauren Oyler sits down with Marilyn Minter to talk about the process behind the artist's erotic imagery.

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Sep 29 2015, 12:35pm

Marilyn Minter is no minimalist. Born in Louisiana, raised in Florida, and heavily influenced in Manhattan's club scene in the late 70s and early 80s, the painter, photographer, and video artist is known for her large, bright depictions of female sexuality from uncomfortable, often close-up perspectives. If her photos and paintings—the former never Photoshopped, the latter always created from a composite image using the program—look like advertising, it's because Minter has also done commercial work—though her branding usually has something sinister lurking beneath the glamour.

Although Minter made her first serious work when she was a teenager, taking striking photographs of her mother, who suffered a drug addiction, she didn't gain the notoriety that still follows her around until the early 90s (and she herself had gotten sober): She exhibited a series of sexually explicit works that landed her on the wrong side of art critics. Unused to a female artist addressing images of women in pornography, viewers were taken aback by Minter's large canvases depicting various ways women can interact with a penis. In the years since, she's moved from that controversy into both pop culture and art-world successes that include a shows at the Venice Biennale and works hanging on Jay Z and Beyonce's walls. Although her beautiful images—of lipsticked mouths sucking on jewels and pearls, of silver high heels kick through dirty water, or of purposefully grown-out pubic hair—may at times seem superficial, Minter is nevertheless constantly considering themes like imperfections, female sexuality, and the subversion of female representation in fashion. A retrospective of her work, Pretty/Dirty, is currently traveling the country and will reach the Brooklyn Museum in 2016.