The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present New Work: Marilyn Minter from April 1 through July 24, 2005. This third exhibition in the New Work series features the work of New York–based artist Marilyn Minter. The exhibition, which is Minter’s first solo museum show, will incorporate both photographs and enamel-on-metal paintings whose tightly cropped, glossy surfaces are both stunning and disturbing, echoing the uneasy distinction between advertising and pornography. Throughout her more than thirty-year career, Minter has examined the relationship between the photograph and the painted image—in particular, the ways in which these media reflect and influence our understanding of gender, sexuality, and desire.
Organized by SFMOMA Curatorial Associate Joshua Shirkey, New Work: Marilyn Minter features ten of the artist’s recent paintings and color photographs, dating from 2003 through 2005. The exhibition is installed on the fifth floor in conjunction with Between Art and Life: The Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Collection, a presentation of post-1960 contemporary art from the Museum’s collection.
Minter’s compelling large-scale paintings, often exaggerated close-ups, reveal tremendous detail, and a subversive approach to glamour. In Treasure Trail, 2003, Minter focuses on a female navel, covered in shiny beads of glistening sweat. In LA to NYC, 2003, Minter captures the deadened stare of a single green eye surrounded by bright pink eye shadow and other sparkling cosmetics. The exhibition also will include photographs, such as Drool, 2003. Serving both as sources for her photorealist paintings and as finished works in their own right, Minter’s prints question the traditional distinctions made between artistic and popular media.
According to Shirkey, “Marilyn Minter has made a career out of pushing society’s buttons. Her work has often taken an unpopular stance—for example, looking at domestic labor in the ’80s and sexually explicit imagery in the early ’90s. She has always been interested in blurring boundaries: between painting and photography, between commercial and fine art, between advertising and pornography, between slick magazine pages and glossy enamel paint. Her recent paintings are among her subtlest and most provocative; they confront us with images that resemble high fashion but are always marred in some way—by dirt or blemishes, or by the very accessories that usually denote glamour. With images that are paradoxically both beautiful and abject, she exposes the uncomfortable split between the fictitious desirable bodies we see in the media every day and the imperfect reality of the bodies in which we live. Her work refuses an easy didactic critique, and instead explores the ambivalence of our seductive, dangerous visual culture.”
In July 2004, SFMOMA reinaugurated the New Work series, which was conceived in 1987 as a means to feature the best and most innovative expressions of contemporary art. Changing three times a year, the series affirms the Museum’s commitment to presenting vital work of the artists of our time. Previous exhibitions have featured such artists as Matthew Barney, Robert Bechtle, Jasper Johns, Glenn Ligon, Doris Salcedo, Kara Walker, Andrea Zittel, and in 2004, Dave Muller, Evan Holloway, and Rachel Harrison.
On Thursday, April 21, 2005, at 6:30 p.m., SFMOMA’s Education Department will present a conversation between Minter and exhibition curator Shirkey. The two will discuss the evolution of her work from 1969 to the present and explore how her recent images tap into deep-seated cultural anxieties about desire, beauty, and the body. An illustrated brochure, with an essay by Shirkey, will be available in the galleries. Additional program information is available on the Museum’s Web site at www.sfmoma.org.
The New Work series is generously supported by Collectors Forum, an auxiliary of SFMOMA and the founding patron of the series. Major funding is also provided by Mimi and Peter Haas, Nancy and Steven Oliver, Robin Wright, and the Betlach Family Foundation.