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Saisha Grayson

(b Abington, PA, 1955).

American installation artist. Upon graduating from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, where she studied printmaking and painting, Apfelbaum moved to New York City in 1978. Apfelbaum consistently found ways to trouble the distinctions between painting, sculpture, craft, and installation-based practices, and between pure abstraction and a range of conceptual and cultural allusions. Such productive tensions abound in the ‘fallen paintings’ for which she is best known, which feature fabrics meticulously shaped and arranged in floor-bound compositions with titles that reference everything from Disney characters to punk bands to Italian cinema. Playfully poking fun at art historical taboos and tastes, her work is often addressed as a feminist, post-modernist response to Minimalism that embraces the emotional, the psychological, the ephemeral, and the sociopolitical potential of abstraction.

Apfelbaum’s first floor installation, Daisy Chain (1989), presented carved wooden shapes appropriated from an Andy Warhol silkscreen, which in turn had appropriated its graphics from a Scandinavian Airlines ticket, a chain of references inferred by the title, which itself invites associations. As in later work, its accumulated elements can simultaneously be appreciated from above as a pictorial composition, walked around like a sculpture, and experienced temporally and spatially as an installation. In ...

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American, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1945, in Washington, DC.

Painter.

Feminism, photorealism.

Betty Tompkins grew up in Philadelphia and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Syracuse University in New York and her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Washington State College in Ellensburg, Washington. Tompkins lives and works in New York and Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.

Heralded as a photorealist painter, Tompkins began her infamous career just after graduate school with the series of works titled Fuck Paintings from 1969 through 1974. In the series, Tompkins sourced imagery from her then-husband’s collection of black-and-white vintage pornography mail ordered from Canada because it was illegal to mail in the United States. The painstakingly airbrushed, photorealist phalluses, vaginas, tongues, and fingers retain their shock value even today. Censored in Paris in 1973 and impounded in Tokyo as pornography in 2005, Tompkins’s paintings provoked ire on all sides, from first-wave feminists who decried their depictions of heteronormative intercourse essentialist and exploitative of the female sex workers who posed for the photos, to conservative viewers who despaired of what they defined as blatant pornography displayed in public....