Radical Feminisms: The Art of Sexual Politics is an invitational section of Frieze, curated by Alison M. Gingeras. This section will feature several monographic presentations devoted to women artists whose work occupied the extreme edges of feminist art practices in the 1970s, with a particular focus on artists who fearlessly explored explicitly sexual iconography. This section will pay homage to artists who transgressed sexual mores, gender norms, and the tyranny of political correctness and were frequently the object of censorship in their day.
Radical Feminisms will also highlight the seminal role galleries have played in exhibiting the radical women artists who were not easily assimilated into mainstream narratives of feminist art. Often times these galleries trail blazed a path for museum exhibitions of feminist art—and in many cases, these galleries have defended artists who were too radical to be included in anthology shows such as MOCA’s WACK: Art and the Feminist Revolution. While many artists in this section will have emerged in the 1970s, the rediscovery of these radical feminist artists transpired much later over the course of the 1990s and 2000s—their belated reception has had a profound effect on many artists working today.
In this context, Galerie Andrea Caratsch presents two of the historical „Fuck Paintings“ by the American artist Betty Tompkins - the series consists of 9 works painted between 1969 and 1974-, an important rubber stamp work and two later paintings inspired by Courbet’s The Origin of the World. Tompkins’ photorealistic black and white scenes, cropped and enlarged from pornographic magazines, remain as shocking today as they were when they were created. Rejected at the time not only by prudish institutions and the male dominated art world, but also by the mainstream feminist movement, which regarded pornography as a vulgar extension of patriarchy, her work has been marginalized for more than 30 years. Only recently, art-critics and museum shows have helped to establish the groundbreaking role of Tompkins’ practice of representing sexually explicit imagery from a woman’s perspective, and thus reversing the monopoly of the male gaze. Galerie Andrea Caratsch has been actively supporting Betty Tompkin’s work since 2005 mounting several exhibitions that raised the public awareness of her radical practice.
Born in Washington in 1945, Betty Tompkins moved to New York in 1969. The earliest group of paintings made between 1969 and 1974 were shown for the first time in 2002 at the Mitchell Algus Gallery in New York. Since, her unashamed approach to female desire and sexually explicit imagery informs her main body of work, qualifying her as a main protagonist in the development of a liberated feminist discourse. Tompkins’ work has been seen at the Lyon Biennale in 2003 and her first intercourse painting “Fuck Painting ♯1” entered the collection of the Musée National d’Art Moderne- Centre George Pompidou, Paris. Most recently the artist’s paintings have been included in “Black Sheep Feminism: the Art of Sexual Politics“ at Dallas Contemporary, curated by Alison Gingeras in 2016.