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These fuck paintings feel more dispiriting and vulgar than risque (NSFW)
July 31, 2012 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Fuck Paintings, by Betty Tompkins [NSFW] The large scale photorealistic paintings of heterosexual intercourse which Betty Tompkins made between 1969 and 1974 were practically unknown when they were exhibited together for the first time in New York in 2002. The idea of sex without a hint of modesty or mediation was too much to handle (nsfw) in a day and age when the word “hell” (not uttered on television until 1967) raised eyebrows and Penthouse was the scourge of morality for showing pubic hair (1969). It’s no surprise, then, that Tompkins originally titled her series Joined Forms in an earnest — albeit tongue-in-cheek — appeal to fit within the period

Choice comment from the second article:

Compared to, say, Courbet's "The Origin of the World" (1866), Duchamp's "Étant donnés" (1969), or especially Japanese shunga prints from the mid 1700s – which make today's "hardcore" pornography look pretty imaginationless – these fuck paintings feel more dispiriting and vulgar than risque. I suppose I should see them in person but I suspect that might amplify the sadness.
posted by KokuRyu (43 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Buttermilk, don't jump on that!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:21 AM on July 31, 2012 [14 favorites]


The gallery photo in the second link makes it obvious that these should be viewed LARGE. I reckon they'd be pretty stunning seen that way.

Buttermilk, don't jump on that!

My new favorite phrase.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:24 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Joined Forms" is so my new band name.
posted by tspae at 8:26 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It's a stripper's pubic hair!"
posted by benzenedream at 8:27 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"...but I suspect that might amplify the sadness."

"Sadness", eh? Seems an odd take on it to me. "Mundane" is the word that more readily describes the imagery, IMO. I don't find it sad.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:27 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dispiriting? I don't know, I thought the cow ones were pretty hilarious.
posted by msalt at 8:28 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've seen photos of sex a million times, but very few paintings.
posted by Forktine at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2012


She didn't invent the plumbing shot, but she seems to have perfected it.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 8:31 AM on July 31, 2012


These are fine links, but looking at them while Hammie the French Bulldog plays in another tab is a bit disconcerting.
posted by mhoye at 8:37 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pity the poor model who had to hold that erection for hours.
posted by ColdChef at 8:43 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


The gallery photo in the second link makes it obvious that these should be viewed LARGE. I reckon they'd be pretty stunning seen that way.

This is interesting because, through the time-period these were made, the only way one could view pornography (discounting magazines) was in theaters, where close ups such as these would have been viewed even larger. The term used in the business at the time for such close-ups was "Monster Shot".
posted by Thorzdad at 8:43 AM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I like the photo of her in her studio, all just hanging out amongst the giant cocks.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:47 AM on July 31, 2012


Metafilter: just hanging out amongst the giant cocks

(Sorry, it had to be done).
posted by yoink at 8:50 AM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


High-five!
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:50 AM on July 31, 2012


"Tounge in cheek", heh heh
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:54 AM on July 31, 2012


I'm also loving the titles. "Cow Cunt #2" is such a priceless example of That Sort Of modern art title from the mid-to-late 20th century. Now it almost reads like a parody. It's like a Penguin cover from the 50s, or the opening credits from a 70s action movie. Just completely evokes a particular artistic place and time in a way that's really cool but also almost unbearably over-the-top.

I guess if it were a parody and not a real title it would have to be "Untitled (Cow Cunt #2)."
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:54 AM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


What year was sex discovered?
posted by fairmettle at 8:54 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


1963. She must've been a real early adopter.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:56 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pity the poor model who had to hold that erection for hours.

That's what she said?
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:56 AM on July 31, 2012


The paintings are unsettling in a manner similar to H.R. Giger's work.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:13 AM on July 31, 2012


The idea of sex without a hint of modesty or mediation was too much to handle (nsfw)

"Too much to handle" in the late '60s? Someone doesn't know their art history. Schneeman's "Interior Scroll" was only a few years later.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 9:20 AM on July 31, 2012


>Someone doesn't know their art history.

I must admit that I completely forgot all about this unit of my high school Western Civ class...
posted by KokuRyu at 9:43 AM on July 31, 2012


Bev Doolittle goes to Utah.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:43 AM on July 31, 2012


Look, there's a cow standing on a giant vulva.
posted by Marky at 10:02 AM on July 31, 2012


Pity the poor model who had to hold that erection for hours.
posted by ColdChef at 4:43 PM on July 31


Nobody's ever held my erection for hours, but if anyone ever did I'd do my best to alleviate their pain by keeping them supplied with a stream of witty banter, shoulder massages and chocolate-dipped berries. And they say chivalry is dead.
posted by Decani at 10:05 AM on July 31, 2012


...Japanese shunga prints from the mid 1700s – which make today's "hardcore" pornography look pretty imaginationless...

Uh, have you seen today's hardcore pornography?
posted by General Tonic at 10:10 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


No. Do you have any links?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:19 AM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Because yesterday evening's was honestly pretty lackluster. It's good of them to post updates so frequently, though.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:25 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


[more inside]

Yes, quite.
posted by de void at 10:46 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Love how the author of the second article says we live in a "post two-girls-one-cup world" where even the most depraved sex is ho-hum. Then they feel uncomfortable being surrounded by sexual imagery while interviewing a woman who is (gasp!) about their mother's age!

I guess the idea that people don't stop having sex once they are too old to be pretty is shocking for some people. Though, come on, even grandmas need sweet lovin'.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:12 AM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Her art has been commended as being strongly vaginal.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:19 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Pity the poor model who had to hold that erection for hours."

Just so you know, photographic porn also involves very little fucking, and a whole lot of holding an erection for hours just barely penetrating a partner.
posted by klangklangston at 12:24 PM on July 31, 2012


These are really beautifully done and I'd love to see them in perfect as on the screen, a lot of them really read like photographs and it's hard to see any brushwork at all.

And then there were the superimposed cows and I got all "WAIT. WHAT?"
posted by sonika at 12:48 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


From Bareass to Our Ass.
posted by Twang at 1:44 PM on July 31, 2012


I like them.
posted by Isadorady at 2:37 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Turn and cough
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:27 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Love these!

Went to google more about Betty Tompkins and saw this. First thought, Ugh, now that's obscene.

Amazing to think these painting have remained sequestrated by French customs officials since 1973! And especially that they were "Locked up again by their Japanese homologues in 2005!"

The cows on the pubes are weird and reminded me of that silly told-on-the-school-bus joke of the early 60's: You can put your hot dog in my bun if I can put my cows on your grass.

Like this pic of her, looking young and vulnerable. She was brave, in those attempting to break through the stranglehold of the Mad Men conservatives days, to paint what she did. She pioneered some of the freedom that's possible today with that bold, frank depiction, way back in 1969. There is something beautifully innocent in these paintings, pure, direct and simple, which is how I think of the sexual revolution of those days, sex without adornment or artifice, a raw and authentic intimacy.
posted by nickyskye at 3:48 PM on July 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


> sex without adornment or artifice, a raw and authentic intimacy.

I would miss the a'n'a. A lot, I think.
posted by jfuller at 4:08 PM on July 31, 2012


I bookmarked the first link for the articles.
posted by vozworth at 6:34 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, the internet has seriously desensitized me. This must be what gynecologists feel like.

Have we lost something?
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:42 PM on July 31, 2012


He admires the technique and vision and painterly skill, but then laments that Tompkins's work is not transgressive compared to modern porn and crude shock stunt like 2 Girls 1 Cup. Um, so? Hell, it's not transgressive compared to 1930s stag films, but I thought we were talking about art?

That they were considered vulgar at the time does not make them objectively vulgar; the work is not dependent on accusations of obscenity to effectively invoke transgression, even now.
posted by desuetude at 11:05 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the artist was aware of the Chinese phrase 牛屄 before painting the cow cunt ones?
posted by Abiezer at 7:07 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I loved them all! Bad website design!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 11:16 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


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