One of the hottest exhibitions in New York right now is Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty It is part of the Brooklyn Museum’s “A Year of Yes” program focusing on visionary women artists. In her review of the show for The New York Times, “A ‘Nasty Woman’ of Contemporary Art Fearlessly Renders the Body,” Roberta Smith wrote, Minter is “increasingly admired by younger generations for her fearless renderings of both the mechanisms of beauty and its dark underbelly.”
In the last ten years not only has Minter’s work become popular with younger generations, it has also been added to the holdings of esteemed museums including Guggenheim. Additionally, she has created memorable images for Madonna’s Hard Candy tour and Tom Ford’s advertising campaign.
Right on the cusp of the artist’s rise to super star status, jewelry designer Karen Karch hired Minter to shoot her jewelry in 2006 for a series of images titled “Seduction & Adornment.” (See the slide show above.) Reached by phone in New York, Karen told me about the experience of working with the celebrated photographer.
How did you find and engage Marilyn Minter to shoot your collection?
It’s actually kind of a funny story. I was working with a branding company on recreating my logo and launching my e-commerce site. They were asking me questions to try and generate an engaging hook for the collection and it just wasn’t working for me. I don’t like to be pigeonholed. So they, rather ingeniously and accurately, said my collection was about intriguing contradictions an example being roughhewn surfaces of the jewels with beautiful gemstones or romantic motifs like a rose set in an edgy looking gold ring.
Once they figured out this angle they presented three photographers to shoot the collection for the new site. I fell in love with Marilyn’s work right away. Her images depict glamour with grit, beauty with defiance and her aesthetic resonated with my own. She had been using jewelry in her work prior to our meeting so the subject matter made sense. One of her well known pieces, called Vomit, has pearls coming out of a models mouth. When we met she was really lovely and really into the idea.
What was the shoot itself like?
It was the biggest shoot I have ever done for my collection. There was a whole crew—model, makeup artist and manicurist. I remember choosing a kind of light shade for the nail polish and Marilyn was like, um ‘no.’ The light shade you see on the model in one of the photos is actually alternating shades on each finger. The manicurist mixed the colors in the studio. There was also a stylist and racks of clothes but we mainly ended up shooting lingerie.
Marilyn loved the tattoo on my art and also photographed me—chipped nails and all—wearing a bunch of bangles and a few necklaces. It was a Pretty-Dirty moment to be sure. It was also kind of interesting to learn the way she gets the water to form in droplets is by rubbing your skin with Vaseline. When I went home I have never been so tired in my life. But I was so happy with what we got.
She also did a ton of still life shots of your jewelry. What was it like working on those images?
The days we shot the still life of the jewelry, Marilyn said it was almost like a vacation from work. It was a half day. She and her assistant just set things up. They were spellbound by the jewelry, just mesmerized by the shapes and the colors and the stones. They turned things backward and upside. I have never seen her wearing jewelry but she loves it as an art.
Karen’s jewelry seen in the photos above is available on her website karenkarch.com
Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum until April 2, 2017.
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