To say that artist Marilyn Minter is a political artist is not entirely correct. Pornography, advertising, fashion—Minter was instrumental in bringing the imagery and underlying issues embedded in these mediums into the art world, delivering a payload of dirt, glamour, and sex into the realm of high art. However, as Minter sees it, her sole task as an artist is to make “a picture of what we know is true, but no one has ever made that image before.”
Of course, the iconic images she’s made over 40-plus years are teeming with social issues, but what makes these images powerful and felt is that they are the product of her lived experience and shrewd observation, not just a commentary on those subjects. Minter’s images present to the viewer what is in the world, offering wisdom and insight on the culture in which we live.
Throughout her career, Minter has also used her visibility as an artist to speak up for (and against) issues that have shaped her life, allying herself with causes that affect women and advocating for the visibility of others who are so often excluded from the conversation. As she discussed with The Standard, for her, the issues are deeply personal, dating back to her relationship with her mother, who was the subject of the photographs that put Minter on the art world map.
Minter recently emerged from a blockbuster year with her touring retrospective Pretty/Dirty landing at the Brooklyn Museum, a recent show of new work at her New York gallery Salon 94, a collaboration with Miley Cyrus and Marc Jacobs to benefit Planned Parenthood, and a packed conversation with Madonna about feminist politics and making a life as an artist.
The day we dropped by her studio, Minter and her team were hard at work on a new video that will be premiered with the Halt Action Group, also known as Dear Ivanka, the artist/activist group that seeks to do everything in its power to reject the normalization of the Trump administration. The excitement in Minter’s studio was palpable, and this expressly activist work was surrounded and framed by a series of paintings in progress. It was clear that questions of community engagement and aesthetics were equally important and, indeed, sister processes.
We discussed women who voted for Trump, the pervasiveness of the patriarchy, her commitment to teaching, and her perennial desire to support other female artists.