Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty Traces Three Decades of the Artist’s Work
Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty Traces Three Decades of the Artist’s Work
For the tenth anniversary of Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the Brooklyn Museumbegins a yearlong projectentitled A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism. The first exhibition of the project, Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty, makes its final, and only East Coast exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum from November 4, 2016, to April 2, 2017.
For more than four decades, Marilyn Minter’s sensual paintings, photographs, and videos have vividly questioned the complex, often contradictory perceptions of beauty and the feminine body in mainstream culture. Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty is the artist’s first retrospective, highlighting her technical virtuosity and examination of some of our deepest cultural impulses, compulsions, and fantasies. Now widely considered an iconic feminist artist noted for her brave and bold representations of desire, Minter was criticized in the 1990s for her pornographic and taboo challenging imagery.
Co-organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty features more than 45 paintings, three videos, and over a dozen photographs made between 1969 and 2015, spanning a range of visual strategies including stark documentary photography, feminist reinterpretations of photorealism, and unabashed sexual appeal.
Marilyn Minter (American, born 1948). Wangechi Gold 4, 2009. Chromogenic print, 60 x 40 in. (152.4 x 101.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist, Salon 94, New York, and Regen Projects, Los Angeles
Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty begins with the artist’s earliest artworks, from 1969 through 1986, including a rarely exhibited series of photographs that intimately capture her troubled mother’s faded glamour. Pop art–inspired paintings from the mid-1980s offer a critical look at representations of the female body and celebrity, and works from the late 1980s and 1990s examine visual pleasure in visceral depictions of food and sex. The retrospective culminates in Minter’s ongoing investigation of how the fashion and beauty industries expertly create and manipulate desire through images. Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty presents the evolution of Minter’s style and technique, tracking her progress from concerns with the domestic landscape to her monumental and media-savvy images that simultaneously define and critique our times.
Over the course of her career, Minter has never shied away from debates over the relationship of her art to feminism, fashion, and celebrity. These vexed cultural intersections are apparent in her subjects and her unflinching approach to them; her work can appear as effortless as a mirror reflecting today’s obsession with luxury and the “bling” lifestyle. Yet Minter’s work is not merely a reflection of our culture, as her critical eye brings into sharp focus the power of desire, magnifying and celebrating the flaws behind superficial exteriors.
“Marilyn Minter brings her decades-long engagement with the cultural politics of feminism uniquely to life through her virtuosity as a painter and photographer. With an unflinching gaze and a sympathetic sense of humor, Minter lays bare the often ridiculous cultural norms we so often take for granted,” says Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty is presented as part of A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art through ten diverse exhibitions and an extensive calendar of related public programs. The project recognizes feminism as a driving force for progressive change and takes the transformative contributions of feminist art during the last half-century as its starting point. A Year of Yes imagines next steps, expanding feminist thinking from its roots in the struggle for gender parity to embrace broader social-justice issues of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity. The Museum-wide series starts in October 2016 and continues through early 2018.
About Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is an exhibition and education environment dedicated to feminist art—its past, present, and future. Among the most ambitious, influential, and enduring artistic movements to emerge in the late twentieth century, feminist art has played a leading role in the art world over the last forty years. Dramatically expanding the definition of art to be more inclusive in all areas, from subject matter to media, feminist art reintroduced the articulation of socially relevant issues after an era of aesthetic “formalism,” while pioneering the use of performance and audiovisual media within a fine art idiom.
The Center’s mission is to raise awareness of feminism’s cultural contributions, to educate new generations about the meaning of feminist art, and to maintain a dynamic and welcoming learning environment.
The Center’s 8,300-square-foot space encompasses a gallery devoted to The Dinner Party (1974–79) by Judy Chicago, a biographical gallery to present exhibitions highlighting the women represented in The Dinner Party, a gallery space for a regular exhibition schedule of feminist art, a computerized study area, and additional space for the presentation of related public and educational programs.
ABOUT BROOKLYN MUSEUM
The Brooklyn Museum is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Its roots extend back to 1823 and the founding of the Brooklyn Apprentices’ Library to educate young tradesmen (Walt Whitman would later become one of its librarians). First established in Brooklyn Heights, the Library moved into rooms in the Brooklyn Lyceum building on Washington Street in 1841. Two years later, the Lyceum and the Library combined to form the Brooklyn Institute, offering important early exhibitions of painting and sculpture in addition to lectures on subjects as diverse as geology and abolitionism. The Institute announced plans to establish a permanent gallery of fine arts in 1846.
By 1890, Institute leaders had determined to build a grand new structure devoted jointly to the fine arts and the natural sciences; the reorganized Institute was then renamed the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the forebear of the Brooklyn Museum. The original design of the new museum building, from 1893, by the architects McKim, Mead & White was meant to house myriad educational and research activities in addition to the growing collections. The ambitious building plan, had it been fully realized, would have produced the largest single museum structure in the world. Indeed, so broad was the institution’s overall mandate that the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum would remain divisions of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences until they became independent entities in the 1970s.