In another life I was a painter. I had a perfect pair of jeans - worn only for painting - that were barely recognizable as denim any longer. I had a wall covered with clippings of lips, interesting colors, plant life, glossy jewelry and mid-century pin-ups. I had lots of brushes and paint and looked ad Rosenquist, Warhol and David Hockney, a lot. Eventually, late in college, a professor turned me onto Marilyn Minter - painter of all things repulsive and beautiful. I was hooked on her gorgeous/gross duality and relieved to find visual kinship from a female voice.
Working in an era of painting largely dominated by men - are we out of that era yet? - Minter's work re-appropriates female sexuality, early on lifting imagery from pornography and later on from her own staged photos. Her photo-realistic, larger than life paintings smear, smudge and muddy things considered traditionally desirable in American culture - glossy lips, glittered eyes, heeled feet - leaving you feeling a bit overwhelmed and something close to grossed out. Rather than re-touched perfection the darker side of beauty - aching feet, sweat, mussed make-up, blemishes, we've all been there - are served up and that honesty holds more beauty than any glossy fantasy. In anticipation of her upcoming retrospective at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston (time for a weekend trip!) I thought I'd dive back into her glossy, wet work again.
More reading: Marilyn Minter on Her Frist Major Retrospective, Vogue, Marilyn Minter: Painting Omissions, Issue