Cow Cunt #1, 1976

Basel 2019
P.P.O.W
Painting
acrylic on canvas
213.4 x 152.4 Size (cm)
84.0 x 60.0 Size (in)
In a career spanning five decades, Betty Tompkins (b.1945) has been celebrated and scorned for her provocative feminist iconography. By appropriating imagery created for male self-pleasure, Tompkins has reframed long-held taboos by challenging critical discourses around content, style and scale. P•P•O•W will present "Cow Cunt #1", 1976, a monumental grisaille painting depicting a common dairy cow resting atop a vagina. This beguiling image exemplifies Tompkins’ signature painting style and her enduring wit, as well as her mutual affinities for confrontation and whimsy. We will also present four new works that unify her WOMEN Words series with her signature airbrushed paintings. By combining text and image, Tompkins responds to ongoing political and cultural debates about inequity, harassment and violence. One such painting reads: “Men are better at art than women. Just look at art history.” Our presentation will highlight that tension with patriarchal conventions continues to both stymie and stimulate Tompkins’ work. In 1973, two significant paintings from her Fuck Paintings series were seized by French customs and, in April 2019, Tompkins’ Instagram account was deleted after she posted an image of a catalog reproduction of "Fuck Painting #1", 1969, which is now in the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou. In a 2017 New York Times article, Rachel Corbett wrote, “Part of what makes Tompkins’ work so enduringly potent today, and what made it too shocking for its time, is not just its frank sexuality: It’s that the art […] seethes with lust, ego, wisecracks and profanity. [She] demanded attention the way men did — through shock and awe.” Tompkins’ recent solo exhibitions include "Fuck Paintings, etc.", J Hammond Projects, London, U.K. (2019); "Will She Ever Shut Up?", P•P•O•W (2018); and "Betty Tompkins", Ribordy Contemporary, Geneva, Switzerland (2018). Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including "Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection", The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2018); "Histórias da sexualidade", Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), São Paolo, Brazil (2018); "Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics", Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, Texas (2016) and Elles, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011), among others.