There is a lot of contempt for popular culture and fashion and beauty and glamour, yet those industries are still the giant engines of the culture. Pornography too. These are the things that I’d like to take second looks at.
-- Marilyn Minter in Harpers Bazaar, 2022
For the last five decades, Marilyn Minter (born 1948) has employed painting, photography, video and now printmaking to explore beauty, autonomy and desire from a feminist, sex-positive perspective. Her vast body of work focuses on the female body and its portrayal in art history and popular media. Her often overtly sexual images of women reclaim the visual language of sex from a male-dominated and exploitative history.
In recent years, Minter has turned to the subject of the female bather, setting out to create a new iconography of the female gaze. As the artist explains, “Historically, it has been difficult to find images of naked women, painted by women. The Classicists, the Mannerists, and the Expressionists really loved portraying women bathing or grooming, or goddesses caught in the nude. But I wanted to ask the question, ‘what does it look like when a woman paints another woman grooming?’ She’s real, not idealized.” Shown behind steamed glass, Minter's bathers express their own agency, they decide how the viewer consumes their image and what parts of themselves are revealed. The viewer sees their sweat, their pubic hair, their open mouths in ways that push against and challenge traditional notions of beauty and sexuality.
Marilyn Minter has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at institutions including MO.CO., Panacée, Montpellier, France; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas; Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Colorado; Orange County Museum of Art, California; and the Brooklyn Museum, New York. In 2006, Minter was featured in the Whitney Biennial. Her work can be found in collections such as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.