Betty Tompkins

Born 1945 in Washington, D.C.
Lives and works in New York, NY and Mount Pleasant, PA

About The Artist

Tompkins’s oeuvre has never demurred from provocative subject matter; the artist’s ongoing Fuck Paintings (1969-1974; reprised in 2003) center on tightly cropped photorealistic images of sexual intercourse. According to the artist, “My first husband had this great collection of porn and I was looking at it one day and thought: if you take out the heads and legs—all this boring stuff—and get down to the money shot, this is beautiful…really formally beautiful.” Highly sexualized imagery and language have since become ubiquitous in mainstream culture and have shifted the context and reaction surrounding the Fuck Paintings, once dismissed as too explicit and because of Tompkins’s position as a female artist with a sex-positive attitude. It wasn’t until the paintings’ presentation at the Lyon Biennale in 2003, that the work received an extraordinary reception and established Tompkins at the forefront of first generation feminist art.

Recent solo exhibitions include WOMEN Words, Phrases, and Stories, The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY (2016); Real Ersatz, FUG, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, New York, NY (2015); Art Basel Feature, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Basel, Switzerland (2014); Paintings & Works on Paper 1972-2013, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FL (2014); Woman Words, Dinter Fine Art, Project room #63, New York, NY (2013); Fuck Paintings, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels, Belgium (2012); among others. Tompkins has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, TX (2016); The Shell (LANDSCAPES, PORTRAITS & SHAPES), Almine Rech Gallery, Paris, France (2014); A Drawing Show, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY (2014); CORPUS, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2014); A Chromatic Loss, Bortolami Gallery, New York, NY (2014); Elles, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2011); among others.

– Maureen Sullivan


PPOW, New York
Gavlak Gallery, Los Angeles, CA and Palm Beach, FL
Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels

Select Permanent Collections

Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Museum of the City of New York

Podcast with Kathy Battista



  • I’ll Be Your Mirror

    The artists in this exhibition reach across generations. Judy Chicago, Cheryl Donegan, Martine Gutierrez, Cindy Hinant, Narcissister, Tschabalala Self, and Betty Tompkins each engage with feminism from different perspectives, acting as mirrors of those who came before as well as for the practitioners who will come after.


  • Betty Tompkins at Gavlak Los Angeles
    July 7, 2016

    Sex Works / WOMEN Words: Words, Phrases and Stories July 16 – September 3 Gavlak Los Angeles 1034 N Highland Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90038  

  • Betty Tompkins and Kathy Battista in Conversation
    June 2, 2016

    Join us for cocktails and conversation with artist Betty Tompkins and curator Kathy Battista

    Wednesday, June 22
    6 – 8pm
    Art+Culture Projects Pop Up (51 7th Ave, NY, NY)