The Loews Hollywood Hotel on Los Angeles’s Highland Avenue may look like just another generic hotel, but its lobby benefits from some extra glitter and grit thanks to a pair of large-scale photographs by New York artist Marilyn Minter. Or, rather, its lobby features two large photos tailor-made to look just like Minter’s work, but they are not the genuine article. The LA-based artist Tim Hailand noticed the mock Minters earlier this month and got in touch with her.
“I got an email last Sunday from Tim Hailand, and he said are these yours?” Minter told Hyperallergic over the phone. “They were just terrible photos and they looked Photoshopped. There were two pictures, and I said, no, I didn’t have anything to do with it. And he said, oh, these are so bad, you’re going to be horrified, sue them.”
The Minter imposters do indeed look pretty flimsy, juxtaposing rivulets of gold, black, and silver paint with images of women’s feet in high-heeled shoes, but without any of the vivid textures and palpable messiness that makes Minter’s work so seductive. Nevertheless, she opted to take the copycat art as flattery, posting Hailand’s photos of the manqué Minters on social media.
“I posted them and said, look at these, they’re so bad I’m not even proud of them,” the artist recalled. “All artists constantly see commercial photographers take their work to make commercial work out of it. They clean it up quite a bit, it’s just natural and normal because commercial photographers have to come up with an idea every week or every couple of weeks, and artists don’t, so they’re constantly mining everything to try and come up with something for commercial shoots because it’s constant turnover. I don’t really care, and I like being flattered. They’re never gonna do anything as nasty as what I do because they can’t make it viable commercially. So I just wanna shame them.”
Minter has developed a thick skin for this type of blatant imitation of her work.
“If there’s a way to rip off an artist, it’s gonna happen,” she said. “What I have had happen to me, and I’ve seen the results even, agencies say, if you don’t take on the job, we will get someone to do what we think a signature Marilyn Minter will look like. That’s totally legal, and they’ve done it, because I didn’t do the job. But they really don’t do it. It’s the same ingredients I would use, but I would never let that image out of the studio, it’s usually so bad.”
The Loews Hollywood Hotel has not responded to Hyperallergic’s requests for more information about the imitation Minter works in the hotel’s lobby.