Betty Tompkins

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kiss grid painting #1 , 2007 Acrylic On Paper 26x26" © Betty Tompkins
blowjob grid #2 , 2005 Pencil On Paper 17x14" © Betty Tompkins
censored grid #8, 2008 Mixed Media On Paper 17x14" © Betty Tompkins
cunt painting #5 , 2007 Acrylic On Canvas 24x24" © Betty Tompkins
fuck painting #1 , acrylic on canvas 84x60" 1969 © Betty Tompkins / collection centre pompidou, paris
fuck painting #4 , 1972 Acrylic On Canvas 84x60" © Betty Tompkins
fuck painting #44 , 2011 Acrylic On Canvas 24x24" © Betty Tompkins
cow/cunt painting #1 , 1976 Acrylic On Canvas 84x60" © Betty Tompkins
fuck painting #46 , 2012 Acrylic On Canvas 84x60" © Betty Tompkins
fuck painting #49 , 2013 Acrylic On Canvas 72x72" © Betty Tompkins
© Courtesy of the artist and Gavlak Gallery
censored grid #7, 2008
girl on girl painting #7 , 2012 Acrylic On Canvas 72x64" © Betty Tompkins
masturbation painting #9 , 2013 Acrylic On Canvas 28x36" © Betty Tompkins
schmutz cunt grid #1 , 2008 Graphite On Paper 17x14" © Betty Tompkins
Total Babe, 2015 Acrylic On Canvas 4 X 4 Inches © Courtesy of the Artist and FLAG Art Foundation
Funny, 2015 Acrylic On Canvas 5 X 4 In 12.7 X 10.2 Cm © Courtesy of the Artist and Gavlak LA
Sex Works / WOMEN Words: Words, Phrases and Stories, 2016 Installation View © Courtesy of the artist and GAVLAK Los Angeles. Photo credit: Genevieve Hanson, Art Echo LLC.
Quick Facts
Washington, D.C.
Birth year
Lives in
New York and Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania
Works in
New York and Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania
Representing galleries

The large scale photorealistic paintings of heterosexual intercourse which Betty Tompkins made between 1969 and 1974 were practically unknown when they were exhibited together for the first time in New York in 2002. Knowledge of Tompkins’ paintings immediately broadened the repertoire of first generation feminist-identified imagery. More significantly, their materialization made manifest an unacknowledged precursor to contemporary involvement with explicit sexual and transgressive imagery. Shown at the Lyon Biennale in 2003 beside Steve Parrino’s equally wayward abstractions, Betty Tompkins’ work garnered extraordinary attention. The first painting in the series – there are only eight extant early Fuck Paintings – was acquired for the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou/CNAC in Paris.......

Although Betty Tompkins’ work is not included in LA MOCA’s current Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution exhibition, it figures prominently in Richard Meyer’s essay for the show’s catalog, Hard Targets: Male bodies, Feminist Art and the Force of Censorship in the 1970s. Meyer notes the essentialist bent of much early feminist-associated art and outlines the marginalization melded the phalocentric or coitus-concerned work of heterosexual women artists. Given the context, Tompkins’ straightforwardness and refusal to moralize is bracing. This, coupled with a ferociously deadpan humor, makes the artist’s images iconic.   from Mitchell Algus Gallery press release, 2007.

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