“The fashion world is 10,000 times more superficial than the art world,” announced Marilyn Minter last night at the White Columns Gallery, looking part fashionista, part aging rock star in a frilled black smock, leggings, and patent-leather flats during a talk with gallery director Matthew Higgs and painter Mary Heilmann. “Fashion people are so much crazier than art-world people. They are constantly trying to leech from the art world, but they will never be able to do what we do.” So declared the photorealistic painter whose metallic close-up of a grubby rhinestone-and-stiletto-clad foot stole the 2006 Whitney Biennial.
The audience was thrilled but incredulous. Actually, the stiletto-teetering, trench-coat-wrapped among them couldn't have cared less — they spent so much time chattering and streaming back and forth through the doors that they rendered the conversation mostly inaudible to anyone on the outskirts. It was the decidedly home-styled among the crowd, in their cotton tanks and pocketed skirts, who pressed the issue. “But which designers inspire you?” persisted one woman. “None,” Minter responded. She continued to speak her mind later when debating a teacher’s responsibility in encouraging less-than marketable artists: “It’s cliché to say, but it takes ten years to get really good. It is true,” said Minter, to which Heilmann responded that she was not sure that she ever got any better since she started. As the crowd milled post-talk and the air-conditioning kicked back in — they turned it off so that people could hear — a line formed for Minter’s autograph, which she scrawled across the inside of her new retrospective book whose cover touts a lipsticked mouth gagging on ice. —Emma Pearse