marilyn minter: what it feels like to look

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more photos from a Creative Time studio visit with Marilyn Minter

Marilyn Minter describes herself as a photo-replacer, not a photorealist. Realism dissolves as you get up close to her paintings. Yet somehow, the paintings feel more real than the gorgeous photographs that inspire them. Illuminating the moments when things fall apart, the paintings get more interesting as your gaze lingers on after that first arresting glance and you discover the imperfections. Hand feathered layers of enamel on metal render sweat, stubble, wrinkles and freckles lush, tactile and luminous.

Commercial sign enamel turns out to be the perfect medium to explore the ways the fashion ideal falls apart up close. Enamel dries within 5 minutes but is rated for 80 years of outdoor use on signs, so it may be the most archival-friendly paint available. Her students underpaint the first 2 layers with brushes, then Marilyn builds it up using her fingers to smooth the edges. The effect looks like it feels like flesh… unruly, imperfect, leaky, juicy, decaying, compelling flesh. Good luck looking away!

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