Images of works by artist Betty Tompkins
Images by Betty Tompkins

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. (A satisfying postscript given that the paintings were detained by customs officials and ultimately denied entrance to France in 1973; a situation that was repeated two years ago when Tompkin’s work was sent to a gallery in Japan.).........
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.
Mitchell Algus, 2007 press release.

Betty Tompkins + Minerva

A radio interview with Minerva (Anna Furney, Fabiola Alondra, Erin Goldberger, Jane Halprin) on September 12, 2014.

A Drawing Show
Mathew Marks Gallery

Matthew Marks Gallery, NYC

The works by Robert Gober, Willem de Kooning, Ellsworth Kelly, Jim Nutt, and Betty Tompkins are all traditional pencil-on-paper drawings. In spite of this shared medium, each displays a quality of line that is immediately recognizable and unique to the artist.

October 4 -November 29, 2014

Zacheta Museum

Zacheta Museum, Warsaw Poland

artists: Marina Abramovic, Samuel Beckett, Vanessa Beecroft, Valie Export, Barbara Hammer, Marek Konieczny, Birgit Jürgenssen, Sigalit Landau, Dominik Lejman, Zbigniew Libera, Klara Lidén, Sarah Lucas, Jacek Malinowski, Ana Mendieta, Duane Michals, Magdalena Moskwa, Clifford Owens, Friederike Pezold, Adam Rzepecki, Santiago Sierra, Alina Szapocznikow, Betty Tompkins, Hannah Wilke

curator Maria Brewinska

9/1 -10/19 2014

Art Basel Feature
June 2014

Art Basel Feature, Basel Switzerland.  Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels.,p1446718

Paintings & Works On Paper 1972-2013
December 2013-January 2014

Sarah Gavlak Gallery

Palm Beach FL

Dinter Fine Arts
November-December 2013

An online project.  in 2003, I sent around an email that said "I am considering doing another series of pieces using images of women comprised of words.  I would appreciate your help in developing the vocabulary.  Please send me a list of words that describe women.  They can be affectionate (honey), pejorative (bitch), slang, descriptive, etc. The words don't have to be in English but I need as accurate a translation as possible. Many, many thanks,

Betty Tompkins"

I received over 1500 words and phrases in seven languages. There were some that were repeated over and over. In January, 2013, I again sent out a request. i received thousands of words and phrases in many languages.  Many people wrote short anecdotes. I was interested to see that while some words had made a comeback in ten years such as TART, the four most repeated words remained CUNT, SLUT, BITCH, and MOTHER.

August 16 - September 7, 2013

Vi Gallery


It is a great honor and pleasure to present Independents, a selection of 8 prominent contemporary female, American based, artists working with different media and strategies, who are all innovators, independents and pioneers within their field.
Independents is a celebration of the free thinker, the avant-garde and the unique way that art can change our perception of the world.

Jenny Holzer, Sarah Braman, Elizabeth Peyton, Alicia McCarthy, Betty Tompkins, Hanna Liden, Katherine Bernhardt, Margaret Kilgallen.

Sunsets and Pussy
June 20 - August 9, 2013

Sunsets and Pussy

Marianne Boesky Gallery

509 West 24th Street


Ed Ruscha, Lucien Smith, Betty Tompkins Piotr Uklanski

Skin Trade
June 27 - July 26 2013

Curated by Larry List and Martha Wilson.  Catalog essay by Larry List.

PPOW Gallery, NYC.

May 9 - June 4, 2013

Curated by David Rimaneli. Presented by Vito Schnabel.

Farley Post Office, NYC

Home Alone 2
February 28 - April 7, 2013

Inaugural show on Forsyth St, NYC

Betty Tompkins and Dadmaino

Art Basel Miami Beach
December 2012

Venus over Manhattan @ M Building, Miami



Works on Paper 1969-2010

Fuck Paintings at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels
February 16 - March 17, 2012

Betty Tompkins started painting large scale, photorealistic, detailed images of penetration, masturbation or the female genitalia in 1969.

Her intent from the start was to have two disparate elements in order that "the abstract and the sexual content - coexist equally in the work." Or as she says : " I realized that if I cut off all the identifiers - heads, hands, feet, etc. - I could create these beautiful abstract images out of the part of the photograph that was most compelling which, of course, was the explicit sex part. »

Grisaille at Luxembourg & Dayan, NYC
November 7, 2011 - January 14, 2012

Curated by Alison Gingeras.

F/ilthyGorgeousTh/ings/ Interview with Betty Tompkins
January issue.

by Christina Voss.

Betty Tompkins paints gorgeous photorealistic works of art on a monumental scale, all explicit, detailed images of penetration, masturbation, and the female genitalia. Her first Fuck Painting was created back in 1969, and after a group show in the early 1970's, they were more or less left untouched by critics and dealers, seemingly due to their visual content. In 2003, the Centre Pompidou acquired Fuck Painting #1, and since then, there's been a new appreciation for the power, poignancy, and sheer beauty of her work.

Radio Betty Tompkins

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