Marilyn Minter’s paintings, photographs, and videos often depict the female body in a variety of ways — from up-close views of women’s feet in heels and eyeshadow-covered eyelids to more explicit sexual imagery — to confront beauty standards, desire, and pleasure in her work. They’ve been described as “steamy, soiled, smeared, and sensual”. We sat down with the artist to talk about the Muff Editions, a series that will benefit Planned Parenthood.
The Muff Editions you’ve created with Her Clique for Planned Parenthood features three images of pubic hair from your Plush Series. Could you talk to us about the genesis of these works? What drew your interest in the subject matter?
It all started when writer and curator Neville Wakefield was appointed creative director of special projects at Playboy magazine and asked me if I wanted to contribute something. At the time, I was teaching grad students at the School of Visual Arts and was upset to hear some of them talking about full-body laser hair removal. I have lived through enough trends and I pointed out that "fashion is fleeting, laser is forever." Then I thought, maybe if I make beautiful photos and paintings of pubic hair for a generation who has never seen it, I can change hearts and minds. We found amateur models of all different races, and I shot them over a period of a few months. Playboy paid for everything but, when the art director saw the pictures, they hated them. I still really wanted to make a case for bringing pubic hair back, so I decided to make a whole series of paintings that would be beautiful enough to put in your living room.
Marilyn Minter, Muff Editions, 2021. Digital C-Print. Edition of 10.
Your works are often described as explicit in nature. Has the proliferation of pornography and explicit content on the internet, impacted your creative process or affected the way in which your work is perceived?
This has affected the way my work is perceived. Sex-positive feminists won that culture war. I support any woman using sexual imagery and I try to give a picture of what it’s like to identify as female, what it feels like to be constantly looked at. Western culture builds up young girls just to rip them apart.
You are a feminist icon. Which of your works do you think have made the most impact on your fight for women’s causes?
I don't know if my art has made any difference anywhere but in the art world, but my activism has raised money for progressive causes.
All of the sales proceeds from these works will be donated to Planned Parenthood. Over the years you’ve been a big champion of the organization. What about their mission is closest to your heart?
Planned Parenthood was available when I needed them in the '70s and they have been fighting for women's reproductive rights since they started. They have had their setbacks but they have never been defeated.
Who are some of your favorite fellow artists?
There are too many to name! The last thing I saw that blew me away was Arthur Jafa’s Love is the Message, The Message is Death.
Marilyn Minter, Target, 2018.
What’s a day in the life of Marilyn Minter like?
Every day is different, but I start my day by reading the news (I'm a Twitter junkie), having my coffee, and then taking the subway to my painting studio on 36th Street.
What’s a show that you are looking forward to next year?
I am really looking forward to the Joan Mitchell Retrospective.
What is a piece of advice you would give to a budding artist?
Make your work from a place of love (it will show if you don't) and don't do this unless you have no choice.
Click here to view and purchase Marilyn Minter’s Muff Editions. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides sexual health care in the United States and globally.