“I just heard that this generation is growing their pubic hair again,” says Marilyn Minter with a chuckle. The exuberance of the human body—its folds and ever-changing textures—has long been at the center of the 74-year-old multimedia artist’s work, both in the studio and in the streets. Her proclivity for portraying women’s unabashed sexuality has cast her as a relentless advocate for women’s rights. It’s also key to the artist’s enduring resonance across generations. Minter has sought reflections of her own taste for subversion, humor, and frank intimacy in her subjects—activists, performers, and intellectuals that include Roxane Gay, Mickalene Thomas, and Monica Lewinsky—reframing their likenesses to unearth timeless dialogues around gender, racial, and body politics.
Minter is preparing for her self-titled exhibition at LGDR this week, the artist’s first new showing of work in New York since since “Pretty/Dirty,” her celebrated retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum seven years ago. Featuring sculptural works, photographs, and a new series of paintings, “Marilyn Minter” sprawls across the new Upper East Side gallery’s three floors and elaborates on the artist’s 50-year investigation into beauty, aging, sex-positivity, and personal autonomy. Among its highlights is Minter’s “Odalisque” series—portraits of formidable women including Lizzo and curator Jasmine Wahi that subvert tropes of orientalism and sexual objectification. “Throughout art history, odalisques were a way to show tits and ass for the public,” says Minter from her Manhattan studio perched on a workbench in front of Juice, 2023, rendered in her signature jewel-toned and dewy style. “I have no problem with that, but what does a 21st-century odalisque look like? I want people to own their sexuality and agency. That’s the focus of my shower scenes and bathing scenes—women don’t really paint other women grooming or bathing.”
Another work from the show, Thirsty (Drinking Fountain), 2022-23, particularly entices the artist. She previews the installation, a functioning drinking fountain upon which a tantalizing short film is projected, which shows mouths sucking candy. “This is my favorite part,” she says, as a woman with braces on her teeth presses her lips against the lens. Minter pauses, leaning over to drink from the spout as the projection continues. “At the opening, we’ll have white wine coming out of here, or maybe champagne. We’re going to play.”