For over three decades Marilyn Minter has explored the “pathology of glamour.” Closely cropping her subjects — jewels in lipsticked mouths, a torso in a shower, or an eye dripping with makeup — she creates images which subvert prescribed notions of beauty and desire through her decidedly feminist lens. A skilled artist from an early age for whom naturalistic drawing came easily, Minter’s paintings are often described as Photorealist, though her compositions, which generally depict her subjects behind wet glass, steam or frost linger on the cusp of realism and abstraction.
In a series of paintings begun in 2016, Minter takes on the classical theme of the bather. Reprising the 19th and early 20th century interest in modernizing this very traditional subject matter, she re-imagines her nudes as 21st century women who meet the viewer frontally, self-confidently, as empowered objects of desire. Minter depicts her subjects in the shower, and the misty panes of glass and refracted light serve to abstract the body, denying a clear reading. The shower glass acts as a metaphorical boundary between the image and the viewer, providing a vision of the 21st century bather as one who has reclaimed her own imagery and has control over her sexual agency.