New York Fall Exhibition Highlights: Marilyn Minter and Carrie Mae Weems
November 14, 2016
by Emma Drew
Two current solo exhibitions from SVA faculty members challenge the authority of mainstream image production—be it of Hollywood and the entertainment industry or of fashion and advertising—and re-figure the presence and perceptions of women in particular throughout art and media.
MFA Fine Arts faculty member Marilyn Minter's retrospective "Pretty/Dirty" charts an ongoing career that, starting in 1969, has focused on finding the visual pleasure in images of the body and its appetites. Known for a form of hyper-realism that flirts with abstraction—her paintings come from combinations of photographic negatives that are worked over and layered in Photoshop, painted and then finessed by Minter's hands—her work fixates on sensuality and images of commercialized beauty, finding the just-as-pleasing dirt (real and proverbial) beneath the fingernails. Moving through her photographs, videos and enamel paintings, the pieces in the exhibition look slick but also slippery, more porous and prone to leakage than the fashion ads, porn scenes and glamour shots she references and appropriates. In extreme close-up, beauty rituals and body parts are magnified nearly beyond recognition; they end up super-saturated, grotesque and glittery, splashing around in indeterminate liquids. "Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty" is on view at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, through April 2, 2017, and is part of the museum's yearlong series A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism. Salon 94 Bowery, 243 Bowery, is also running an exhibition of Minter’s paintings through December 22.
The latest exhibition of MFA Art Practice faculty member Carrie Mae Weems directs its attention toward the history of performance and the entertainment industry, significant sites of representation of black characters and bodies in American culture. This show, her first solo outing since her 2014 Guggenheim retrospective, includes the photographic Scenes and Takes (2016), which places her black-robed, back-turned alter ego on the empty sets of television shows like Empire and Scandal; Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me (2012), a video installation based on a 19th-century stage trick involving flickering images and optical apparitions; and Blue Notes (2014), which contains blurry-edged photo portraits of artists with silk-screened color blocks strategically positioned over them. Weems, who delivered SVA's commencement address last May, untangles and interrogates the ways in which visual representation is used to identify, include and remember the marginalized—or not. The exhibition is on view at both Jack Shainman Gallery locations, 524 West 24th Street and 513 West 20th Street, through December 10.