marilyn minter’s art is literally filthy gorgeous

With her intensely close close-ups of glistening, red lips dribbling diamonds and pearls, skin painfully caked in purple glitter and thick, clumpy lashes staring out through steamed up glass, Marilyn Minter’s work explores women’s glam - and not so...

by Felicity Kinsella
21 November 2014, 11:05am

Redhead, 2015

She was thrown out of the art world in the late 80s after exhibiting her very NSFW Porn Grid, has photographed Baywatch's sexiest sex kitten, Pamela Anderson, created saucy campaigns for Tom Ford and MAC and her Green Pink Caviar video made it to Madonna's Sticky & Sweet world tour. Marilyn's student artwork shows her own once beautiful, but drug-addled and pathologically vain mother, as the progenitor of her future works. Telling stories of how she pulled her hair out and spent days in bed but would always wear negligee and be smoking a cigarette through acrylic nails, it's not hard to see where Miss Minter's fascination with the superficial began.

Her play on fashion photography clichés, adding an element of the grotesque and the glycerin to the beauty, subverts our views of women's life-long quest to be beautiful. Marilyn's experienced it all - she's partied, worked, married, divorced, been to rehab, got clean, been shunned, been praised and she's got a portfolio oozing with glamour to show for it. So take a leaf out of Marilyn's book; whack on some mascara, cover your fingers in some ice, ice, baby, and get in touch with all your darkest fantasies, because it took blood, sweat and tears to look this good…

Glazed, 2006

What does beauty mean to you?
I usually think someone is beautiful when I just stare at them, any age.

What's your favourite part of the face?

Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?

Do you find yourself working towards a certain beauty ideal?
I don't have a beauty ideal myself, I don't like narrative, I don't like to tell people what to think.

How do you think people's perceptions of beauty have changed since you started working and since the birth of social media?
Difference has become more celebrated.

How important is the element of sex and glamour in your work?
Too much/too little never works, I always walk on a tightrope here.

Do you think porn is becoming less taboo as it is reinterpreted more and more as art?
Oh yeah. Yesterday's smut is today's erotica.

Your photographs and paintings, as well as the models you choose to use are incredibly beautiful but in a way the message you're trying to give with them is the opposite, how do you portray that in your work?
I believe in multiple reads of my work. I'm more interested in ambiguity and mystery than telling people what to think.

What kind of beauty do you think Pamela Anderson represents?
90s Americana.

Who is the most beautiful person in the world?
That's a dumb question!

What are you working on now?
Painting for my show at Salon 94, a traveling retrospective & a book with Fulton Ryder that debuts December 3rd at Miami Basel.

Kiki, 2014

Wet Kiss, 2014

Michele, 2015

Green Light, 2015


Text Felicity Kinsella
Images courtesy the artist and Salon 94, New York

Marilyn Minter
make up
felicity kinsella