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Issue Date: July 2010 Issue

Face Value

Artist Marilyn Minter's visceral, alluring images come to MOCA Cleveland.
Matt Tullis

A tongue licks the glass, swirling around greens and pinks and oranges.

Thick, red lips move in and slurp up the colors.

Beautiful white teeth appear then disappear. The colors are bold, bright, shocking.

Such is Marilyn Minter's nearly eight-minute video, Green Pink Caviar, which was shot when Minter was photographing models for another piece. The video was used as the backdrop to the opening song on the European leg of Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour last year.

That video, Minter's painting Orange Crush and five related large-scale photographs are the focus of Marilyn Minter: Orange Crush, an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland open through Aug. 15. Minter says she loves seeing her work in new spaces because everything from the lighting to how her pieces are arranged makes each experience unique.

"It's a different animal in every venue," Minter, 61, says from her New York City studio. "So, I learn things about it."

In the late 1980s, Minter began painting very large and very realistic hardcore pornography scenes. She did it because she wanted women to own images of female sexuality.

"I tried some things during a really politically correct time, things that seem innocuous now," Minter says.

Today her work features stylized, close-up shots of models. Orange Crush shows the lower half of a model's face. Her mouth is open and tongue out, licking orange and silver beads flowing over her face.

"I want to make a picture of what it feels like to look at glamorous images," Minter says. "You know these images give people enormous pleasure, but they know they'll never look like that, and there's a dark side to even trying."

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