Pretty and Not: Marilyn Minter Looks Back

Provocative images of chartreuse-colored toenails or blemished eyebrows up close make for conversation starters. And, they're the subjects in Marilyn Minter's retrospective, which recently opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver.  The show, "Pretty/Dirty," is a retrospective for the American artist; it opened at the MCA in Houston and will travel to the Orange County Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum in 2016 and 2017. 

Minter has been a steward of contemporary art in the United States for decades, with a resume of multiple solo exhibitions on her list. It's the startling images -- often erotic, suggestive and daring -- that have drawn attention. While at first crude or manipulative, her greater message is redefining the conversation about beauty. The iconoclastic works challenge how our culture views women, in particular, and the result is often pretty and dirty in the same presentation. 

Because it's a retrospective, the exhibition catalogs Minter's evolution in both mediums she uses: photography and painting. While her photographic images are authentically staged, her paintings  combine negatives in Photoshop to make a whole new image. This new image is then turned into paintings created through the layering of enamel paint on aluminum. As a singular piece, they may be shocking. As a collective whole, like this exhibition, it shows the dramatic breadth of one artist. 

"Pretty/Dirty" runs through Jan. 31, 2016. 

Christine BenedettiComment