Pulitzer Prize-Winning Art Critic Jerry Saltz and Artist Marilyn Minter Warn of ‘Creeping Puritanism’ in an ‘Unforgiving Art World’

Shepard Fairey, Shantell Martin, and Tali Lennox were among the guests for an intimate conversation between the two provocateurs.

Jerry Saltz and Marilyn Minter at Playboy's Art Basel Miami Beach dinner. Photo by Tiffany Sage, courtesy of BFA.
Jerry Saltz and Marilyn Minter at Playboy's Art Basel Miami Beach dinner. Photo by Tiffany Sage, courtesy of BFA.

Marilyn Minter, the artist known for her glamorous, sometimes bawdy paintings of women, and Jerry Saltz, New York magazine’s art critic, have a common anxiety. Both are worried about “the creeping Puritanism” of the art world.

“The art world is very demonizing and unforgiving right now,” Saltz said during a conversation with Minter at the Soho Beach House in Miami Beach last week. In attendance at the event—which, fittingly for a conversation about pushing the envelope, was hosted by Playboy—included gallerists Jack Shainman and Jeanne Greenberg-Rohatyn; artists Shepard Fairey and Shantell Martin; model Tali Lennox; and musician Tove Lo.

Playboy might seem an unlikely presence at Art Basel in Miami Beach, but the magazine has a long history of showcasing artists, including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Salvador Dali. And it’s renewing its commitment to contemporary art with a series of art-focused features, including a recent spread of Minter’s paintings and an interview between Saltz and street-art phenom JR in the upcoming issue.

Minter, an avowed feminist, feels a kinship with Playboy dating back to her youth. “Playboy was the radical left magazine… it was anti Vietnam, it was pro-reproductive rights,” she said. As a self-proclaimed “pro-sex feminist,” she was a fan.

Jerry Saltz and Marilyn Minter talk to an intimate crowd about art and sex at Playboy's Art Basel Miami Beach dinner. Photo by Tiffany Sage, courtesy of BFA.

Jerry Saltz and Marilyn Minter talk to an intimate crowd about art and sex at Playboy’s Art Basel Miami Beach dinner. Photo by Tiffany Sage, courtesy of BFA.

The conversation turned toward the art world’s uncomfortable relationship with sex. Minter recalled being vilified for daring to turn porn into art—”I was accused of being a traitor to feminism!”—while Saltz swapped war stories with several guests over having images of artworks removed from Instagram due to nudity.

And despite the rise of the #MeToo movement, the two agreed that the male gaze will be with us for the long haul. “Women love to be desired—it turns them on,” said Minter.

And on the flip side, Saltz pointed out, “Women don’t want to look at lots of naked men!”

Jerry Saltz, Amanda Fairey, and Shepard Fairey at Playboy's Art Basel Miami Beach dinner. Photo by Tiffany Sage, courtesy of BFA.

Jerry Saltz, Amanda Fairey, and Shepard Fairey at Playboy’s Art Basel Miami Beach dinner. Photo by Tiffany Sage, courtesy of BFA.

Returning to Miami after several years’ absence, the critic was somewhat overwhelmed by the hubbub of fair week, noting that he hadn’t even made it to the convention center to visit Art Basel Miami Beach because he didn’t have a ticket. (A representative for the fair assured Artnet News that Saltz had been sent a VIP card, and would be welcomed at the fair.) But regardless, he won’t necessarily be back next year.

“Everything we see is an illusion. Miami is already gone, the art world we built is already gone,” Saltz said dramatically. It’s time, he added, to hand the reins to the next generation: “The art world is yours now.”


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