Betty Tompkins

Artist's Statement

   When I first came to NYC after graduate school in 1969, I began a series of 7'x5' black and white paintings of explicit sexual imagery. Originally called "Joined Forms" but always referred to and now called the "Fuck Paintings," they were cropped images of heterosexual intercourse. I painted them with an airbrush at which I got so adept I could imitate a pencil line. I used only pure white and pure black paint. All the grays are an optical mix of the tiny dots from the airbrush. This was the period of the beggining of feminism and I was deliberately appropriating the male gaze. In 1973, I had the opportunity to show them in group shows at LoGuiduce Gallery and Warren Benedek, both in SoHo. I was also invited to participate in an exhibition/auction at Guy Loudmer's in Paris. Two paintings were shipped over but the French Customs did not allow them in the country. It took me a year of legal wrangling, calling, and letter writing to get them back. I was very discouraged. With the exception of a show that Paul Schimmel curated at an artist-run space called the Houston Museum of Modern Art, the paintings remained rolled up in my loft until 2002 when through a series of unbelievably fortuitous circumstances, they were brought to the attention of Mitchell Algus who offered to do a solo show of them in his New York gallery. This show led to my inclusion in the 2003 Biennale de Lyon that in turn led to Centre Pompidou purchasing one of the paintings that had been censored in 1973- all of this was very satisfying. The validation and encouragement I have received has been important to me. It has allowed me to return to this very dangerous subject matter.

   Among the ideas I developed in the interim was an extensive series of paintings and works on paper that used the single repeated defining noun of the image to create the image (COW, DOG, BIRD, etc.). The lights and darks within the letters created the illusion of volume. The pieces are a conceptual form of hyper--realism. Most of the pieces were hand painted or drawn but occasionally I would do one with rubber stamps. When I was in Lyon for the Biennale opening, I decided to do a drawing for Bob Nickas, the curator who was responsible for getting me into the show. I knew that I wanted it to be done with a rubber stamp that said "Lyon". From this piece, I then grew the idea to its present state -acrylic paintings, big, where all the marks are words applied with rubber stamps. The words are our slang terms for sexual acts and body parts. The images are cropped from published photos of contemporary porn magazines that are available to anyone. Unlike the original series from the 70's, my new work uses no black paint at all. I mix a chromatic black from colors and then make a six step gray scale from that. I start with an under painting. For the grisaille paintings, the underpainting is done in a few tones of chromatic gray. For the other paintings, I use a few light and dark tones of the dominant colors and then use the monochromatic grays on top with the stamps. If I go too far, I stamp with the colors on top. The paintings are dependent on optical mixing. When the viewer is up close, the image disintegrates and the marks are loose and gestural. It clicks together at a distance and becomes very realistic. I have included three detail shots with my slides which I hope will be helpful.

   My first show of this work was in March 2005 at Mitchell Algus Gallery in Chelsea. I am currently working toward my next show.


Betty Tompkins' Bio

Selected Shows
2005 Mitchell Algus Gallery, NYC
2002 Mitchell Algus Gallery, NYC
2000 Egizio's Project, NYC
1998 Juniata Museum of Art, Huntingdon, Pa
1997 Monmouth University, Gallery 800, West Long Branch, NJ (catalog with essay by Bill
1994 Fridholm Fine Arts, Asheville, NC
1991 White Columns, White Room, NYC
      Margulies Taplin Gallery, Miami, Fl
      Alan Brown Gallery, Hartsdale, NY
1987 P.S.1, Special Projects Room, Long Island City, NY
1986 Rutgers University, Dana Women Artists Series, New Brunswick, NJ
1985 Sensory Evolution Gallery, NYC
1983 Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, NYC
1977 Harriman College, Harriman, NY
1975 Houston Museum of Modern Art, Houston, Tx (curated by Paul Schimmel)

Selected Group Exhibitions
2005 Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, "la beaute' de enfer" Brussels
     Galerie Sho, " Art", Tokyo
2004 Centre Pompidou, Musoe National D'Art Moderne "Nouvelles Acquisitions, Oeuvres
      Printed Matter, "untitled nudes", NYC (curated by Larry Clark
      Mitchell Algus Gallery, "The F Word: Sex and Feminism", NYC
2003 Biennale De Lyon, "It happened Tomorrow", Lyon, France (curated by Bob Rickas,
        Anne Pontegnie & the Consortium)
2002 Museum of the City of New York, "Manhattan Skylines", NYC
2001 Salvador Dali' Museum, "Disarming beauty: Venus DeMilo in Contemporary Art", St.
        Petersburg, Fl (catalog)
2000 Islip Art Museum, "From Lake Erie to Now", East Islip NY (catalog)
     Islip Art Museum, "Collection Insights- Recent Acquisitions", East Islip, NY
1999 Gale gates Etal., "Size Matters", Brooklyn, NY (curated by Mike Weiss)
1997 National Jewish Museum, "Lions", Washington DC
     Monmouth Museum, "Creature Comforts", Lincroft, NJ
1996 Center for Book Arts, "Grimm & Grimmer", NYC (catalog)
     Rutgers University, "25 Years of Feminism", New Brunswick (catalog)
1995 Yale University Art Gallery, "The Art of the Emblem", New Haven, Ct (catalog)
1993 Thomas Center Gallery, "Sacred Spaces: Women and the Land", Gainesville, Fl
1992 Allen Memorial Art Museum, "The Living Object: The Art Collection of Ellen H.
        Johnson", Oberlin, Oh (catalog)
     Rutgers University, "20th anniversary Exhibition of the Dana Women Artists Series",
        Rutgers NJ
1990 White Columns, "Brut 90", New York City
1989-1990 USIA Traveling Europe, Pan America CW Post, Hilwood Gallery, "Lines of
          Vision: Drawings by Contemporary Women" (catalog), Long Island, NY
1989 Hudson River Museum, "Nature of the Beast", Yonkers, NY
1988 Richard Green Gallery, "An Awareness of Place" curated by Robert Lemmerman, New
        York City
      Lyman Allyn Museum, "Drawings", New London, Ct
      Aldrich Museum, "Selections from the Collection", Ridgefield, Ct
1987 Hallwalls, "Floating Values", Buffalo, NY
1986 Clocktower, "Letters", New York City
1985 Stamford Museum, "American Art American Women" (catalog), Stamford, Ct
1983 Castelli Graphics, "New Talent in Printmaking", New York City
     Pier 34, Installation, Brooklyn, NY
     Terminal NY, Installation, Brooklyn, NY
1982 Gracie Mansion Gallery, "The Famous Show", New York City
1981 Alternative Museum, "Ikon/Logos" (catalog), New York City
1977 Aldrich Museum, "Contemporary Reflections 1977", Ridgefield, Ct (catalog)
     Soho Center of Visual Arts, New York City
     The Whitney Counterweight, New York City
1976 Queens Museum, "Cows" (catalog) , Flushing Meadows, NY
1973 Warren Benedek Gallery, New York City
     Loguidice Gallery, New York City

1998 Weir farm Trust/National park Service, Wilton, Ct
1996 Director's Award, Warren Taylor memorial Fund
1994 Project development Grant, New School, NYC
1990 Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY
     MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH (also 82,83,88)
1988 New York Foundation for the Arts
1983 Caps Grant
1979 Ossabaw Island Project, Savannah, Ga

Public Installations
Weir Farm National Historic Site/National Park Service, Wilton, Ct (temporary)
Cowparade New York (Piece now in permanent collection of the Museum of the City of
     New York)
Islip Art Museum, East Islip NY (permanent installation)

Absolut Tompkins
Absolut Collaboration

Art Fairs
2005 Art Brussells (Galerie Roddphe Janssen)
     Art basel 36 (Galerie Roddphe Janssen and Printed Matter)
     Scope New York (Lyonsweir Gallery)

Selected Collections
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Galerie Rodlphe Janssen, Brussels, Belgium
Galerie caratsch De Pury & Luxembourg, Zurich, Switzerland
Galerie Sho, Tokyo, Japan
Absolut Vodka, NYC
Allen Art Museum,Oh
Amoco Productions, Denver, Co
Ashland University, Ashland, Oh
Best Products, Va
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, NY
Carillon Importers, Teaneck, NJ
Champion International paper Products, Ct
Chase Manhattan Bank, NYC
City Federal Savings and Loan, Franklin Twnsp, NJ
Fact, Philadelphia, Pa
First National Bank of Minnesota
G.B. Residences of Key Biscayne LTD
Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY
Jena Hall Associates, Woodbury, NY
Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ
Marvin Sackner Archives, Miami Beach, Fla
Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCoy, NYC
Morgan Guarantee Bank
Museum of the City of New York
Oberlin College, Oh
Paterson Museum, NJ
Prudential Insurance Company of America
Queens City Bank
Renaissance Hotel, NJ
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, NYC
Smith Barney Harris Upham & Co., NYC
Sonesta Corporation, Boston, Ma
Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Pa
Southeast Bank, Miami, Fl
Stamford Museum, Stamford, Fl
Technimetrics, NYC
Twin Star Semi-Conductor Collection, Dallas, Tx
Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, NJ