Filthy Gorgeous


By Jason Lamphier

During March 2006 a billboard image of bejeweled high heels and toned calves sloshing through a large, dirty puddle towered above West 23rd Street in New York City's gallery district. There was something puzzling about this mammoth photograph of grime-splattered glitz; what seemed like a seductive call for upscale consumerism also evoked a scene from Attack of the 50-foot Woman. Muddying the waters between fine and commercial art, the promotional piece, titled Shit-Kicker, was one of Marilyn Minter's four fashion-magazine shots looming over Chelsea's couture-obsessed queens and hip avant-garde that month.

'Everyone I know gets so much pleasure from looking at glamorous pictures, movies, [and] videos,' Minter explains in 'Twenty Questions,' a chapter from the new tome Marilyn Minter (Gregory R. Miller, $60). 'But at the same time, you are always aware that you are never going to live like that, look like that, or be like that. So even though the glamour we see in popular culture is so perfect and flat, when it starts to come undone perhaps it gets sexier.'
While her hyperreal paintings (such as Wave, 2006, above) and photography emphasize our inevitable failure to realize our fashion-fueled fantasies, this career-spanning catalog is lush and oddly reassuring' human. When fellow artist Mary Heilmann asks her why she spotlights filthy feet, Minter simply replies, 'Because if you're dancing in a disco all night, your feet get dirty even if you have the most expensive shoes on.'