April 12–June 3, 2023
3 East 89th Street, New York
LGDR gallery is currently presenting a remarkable exhibition of new work by Marilyn Minter. Spanning three floors and six gallery spaces, this ambitious show is the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York since her celebrated retrospective Pretty/Dirty at the Brooklyn Museum in 2016–17. The exhibition introduces several new bodies of work, including portraiture and highlights Minter’s daring fifty-year exploration of beauty, representation, autonomy and desire through a feminist/sex-positive perspective. The show presents a jaw-dropping display of jewel-toned Minter paintings as they commingle with sculpture, video, photographs, and prints.
Minter approaches some of her now familiar themes with a critical, fresh eye and fearlessly tackles the art-historical canon by reinterpreting traditional genres such as bathers, odalisques, and portraiture. This exhibition propels Marilyn Minter as the strongest leading voice of feminism, celebrity culture, activism and pop modern fine art. We had Marilyn Monroe through Andy Warhol, now Marilyn Minter leads the way as the Marilyn of our times.
Eroticism is usually associated with gaudy works, pushing the boundaries of vulgarity. Minter takes the exact opposite approach and strips down her nude figures to close ups of intimate encounters between couples and in most cases as they say, ''The Devil is in the Details'' - the story and seduction is left to the imagination of viewers. Minter achieves a highly seductive, elegant, sophisticated kind of imagery that takes you into that ethereal world of intimacy and fantasy all merged together.
Like Andy Warhol, who is known for his celebrity portraits, Minter goes for the current She/Her/They/Them feminine celebrities, strong women who possess and bring inspiration for their contributions to activism and social justice. The portrait paintings, (enamel paint on aluminum) of Gloria Steinheim, Lady Gaga, Monica Lewinsky and Mickalene Thomas are candid and well executed with joyful colors and dramatic light with slight distortions. All of the works have that strong gaze that connects with the human soul, confronting viewers directly.
The full body painting portraits of entertainer performer Lizzo and art mover and shaker Jasmine Wahi are strong, well portrayed and beautifully rendered in that Minter style. The sense of body fluids emanating from human bodies is accentuated by the creation of water fountains, (which you can drink from) adding an interactive element. The water garden fountains help you contemplate the seductive video loop imagery reflected in the top surfaces of these water fountains. These struck me as being innovative, well designed, not gimmicky but cool - while still making for a serious exhibition.
The inclusion in the exhibition of some of the Elder Sex (Sex after 70) series, which was originally a commissioned project for The New York Times, addresses the issue of aging. Minter provides a series of intimate close-ups of couples at the age of 70, featuring them in the most tender, seductive and alluring manner. There is a book just published on the series by JBE Books : https://www.jbe-books.com/products/elder-sex-by-marilyn-minter
I had a one on one personal conversation with Marilyn during the press preview about the show and particularly the Elder Sex series. I made the observation that the intimacy, a close-up approach and detail in the Elder Sex series reminded me of the homoerotic work of Andy Warhol. (Querelle) in particular, from the 1950's to around 1982, in which the intimacy of bodies and details of body parts are Warhol’s main focus. Marilyn told me she loves Warhol and we even discussed the Querelle silkscreen portrait which over time has become iconic. Marilyn has carried on this approach through her own vision - and a deeply feminist contemporary vision it is.
I highly recommend you to go and see this exhibition. It will open your mind and bring you joy - fantasy and beauty will set you free. WM
Ruben Natal-San Miguel is a New York based photogrpher published internationally.view all articles from this author