Betty Tompkins came of age as a painter in the 1960s and 1970s. Though she has been a working artist for over 40 years, Tompkins has inspired renewed interest since the early 2000s, with a new generation of viewers responding to her unique voice and technical skill. As a woman and a feminist artist, Betty Tompkins is no stranger to the barriers against female voices, both in the art world, and in culture at large. Her sexually explicit and sex-positive artworks—including paintings that reflect the language our society uses to talk about women—reclaim the representation of women in art.
In this episode of the Oxford Comment – the latest in a series produced by the Benezit Dictionary of Artists – Benezit’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Kathy Battista, sits down with Betty Tompkins in our New York office. The two discuss the start of Tompkins’ life as an artist in New York in the 1970s, the success of her large-scale sex paintings and other airbrush works, and her new series of text paintings: WOMEN Words. For more insight into Betty’s career and feminist art over the last half-century, Michelle Wilson from Oxford Art Online invites art historian Dr. Betty Ann Brown, curator Stephanie Roach, and gallerist Mitchell Algus to join the conversation.
Please note that this podcast contains explicit language and sexual content.
Featured image credit: Installation view of Betty Tompkins, WOMEN Words, Phrases, and Stories at The FLAG Art Foundation, 2016. Photography by Genevieve Hanson, ArtEcho LLC. Used with permission from FLAG Art Foundation.