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Food, Porn, and Iggy Pop at the Brooklyn Museum

A Marilyn Minter retrospective and an Iggy Pop nude drawing class kick off a year of feminism.

by Taylor Lindsay
Nov 13 2016, 12:30pm

Marilyn Minter (American, b. 1948). Pop Rocks, 2009. Enamel on metal. Collection of Danielle and David Ganek

Earlier this year, legendary feminist artist Marilyn Minter teamed up with Miley Cyrus to raise money for women’s rights through softly sexy portraiture. And Jeremy Deller led a nude painting class last February at the New York Academy of Arts, featuring a naked Iggy Pop as the artists’ model. Though they make an anachronistic pair, the two artists now share a floor at the Brooklyn Museum: Minter on the last stop of her traveling first retrospective and Deller showing the finished products of Pop’s nude portraiture. The exhibitions kick off the museum's A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, a yearlong series of 10 exhibitions celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

Marilyn Minter (American, b. 1948). Coral Ridge Towers (Mom Smoking), 1969. Gelatin silver print, sheet. Collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody

For more than 40 years, Minter has tackled cultural appetites in the open, holding up a mirror to modern obsessions and re-rendering them with biting, colorful glitz. On November 2, Minter guided viewers through Pretty/Dirty which includes her 1969 photos centered on femininity, her paintings linking cuisine to coitus from 1989–1990, and her multimedia studies of sex in the late-2000s. One of the highlights is 100 Food Porn, depictions of preparing raw food, like corn on the cob or lobster claws, imbued with sexual overtones. A 1990 commercial for the exhibition originally aired during The David Letterman Show.

Marilyn Minter (American, born 1948). 100 Food Porn #9, 1989–90. Enamel on metal. Hort Family Collection

While her food-focused work was mostly well received, a subsequent exploration of pornography was met with a barrage of critique. “This piece was inspired by seeing a Mike Kelley show at Metro Pictures in 1990,” she explains while paused in front of her work Porn Grid. “I realized, then, that only someone like Mike Kelley can explore an adolescent, 13-year-old girl’s bedroom filled with rainbows and stuffed animals and make that profound; if a woman did it, no one would have given it the time of day. It gave me my next idea: What is it that women never paint?”

The answer, it seems, was porn. “I asked myself, can I reclaim an abusive history and own the agency of it? It should be done. I couldn’t understand why artists had no idea what the porn industry was like, even when it’s this giant engine of culture. Plus, it looks like everyone is having a good time in these images, right?”

Marilyn Minter stands in front of her painting ‘Porn Grid’ (1989) at the Brooklyn Museum. Photo by the author

When her efforts were met with negative reviews, exclusion from shows, and criticism from The New Yorker, Minter was flagged as a traitor to feminism. “I was feeling beat-up—so I beat up my work,” she says of her next series of images. From broken lipstick tubes to jarring close-ups of physical imperfections, Minter transitioned to focus on that which “people never look at.” Her technique evolved into Photoshop-intensified works, with standouts like Plush, a series featuring women who don’t shave their pubic hair, commissioned by Playboy.

Marilyn Minter (American, b. 1948). Soiled, 2000. C-print, 60 x 40 in. (152.4 x 101.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist, Salon 94, New York, and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Marilyn Minter (American, b. 1948). Blue Poles, 2007. Enamel on metal, 60 x 72 in. (152.4 x 182.9 cm). Private collection, Switzerland

With reference to “orange junk food:”  Marilyn Minter (American, b. 1948). 'Orange Crush,' 2009. Enamel on metal. Private collection

While Minter explores gender and sexuality through many parts of many bodies, Jeremy Deller focuses on a single nude subject: Iggy Pop. Under the direction of the Turner Prize-winning conceptual artist, a class of 22 students spent several hours in a life class studying and drawing the musician-model. Though the class took place in February, the resulting works are being revealed now, for the first time.

Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, February 21, 2016. (Photo: Elena Olivo, © Brooklyn Museum)

Mike Kelley was a muse for both Deller and Minter. The artist was viewing Kelley's work in the Louvre, when he had the idea to do a life class centered on Iggy Pop. Kelley was a huge fan of rock culture. “When I approached Iggy about this 10 years ago, at first he said, no,” Deller tells The Creators Project. “When I asked him a second time last year, he said yes, explaining he’d been too young to do it a decade ago. He’d been 60 at that time. But when you’re a life model, you’re very vulnerable. It takes a lot to put yourself in that position, even when you’re famous.”

Iggy Pop (left), Jeremy Deller (right), New York, February 2016. (Photo: Elena Olivo, © Brooklyn Museum)

The renderings of Pop’s form range from the erotic to regal, highlighting the perception of not just one icon, but of the naked male body over time. “When we first revealed the images from the class, the comments were the kind you might typically hear about a woman’s body: ‘That’s really disgusting,’ or ‘This person’s getting old.’ It’s strange isn’t it? His body is a culturally important one, and I felt that us documenting it in a different way actually aids in a better understanding of rock music and society," Deller says.

Charlotte Segall (American, born 1983). Untitled (Lying pose), from Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, 2016. Natural charcoal with white chalk on pink paper. Brooklyn Museum Collection, TL2016.8.19b. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, February 21, 2016. (Photo: Elena Olivo, © Brooklyn Museum)

Levan Songulashvili (Georgian, born 1991). Untitled (Standing pose), from Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, 2016. Black ink, brushed and blotted with scratching out, with black pencil on board. Brooklyn Museum Collection, TL2016.8.21c. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Robert Reid (Trinidadian, born 1960). Untitled (Sitting pose), from Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, 2016. Graphite pencil on paper.  Brooklyn Museum Collection, TL2016.8.15d. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Kallyiah
Merilus (American, born 1996). Untitled (Standing pose), from Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, 2016. Natural charcoal and compressed charcoal with erasing on paper. Brooklyn Museum Collection, TL2016.8.11c. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Pretty/Dirty is on view through April 2, 2017, and Iggy Pop Life Class is on display through March 26, 2017 at the Brooklyn Museum. To learn more, click here.

Related:

NSFW: Marilyn Minter and Betty Tompkins on Censorship, Art, and Being Embraced By Millennials

What Do You Get When You Cross Acid House With A Brass Band?

Dalí, Warhol, and the Lip-Smacking Legacy of Artists and Food

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