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Betty Tompkins Ousted from Instagram for Posting Classic Painting of Penetration

The artist’s post to Instagram on Friday.

COURTESY BETTY TOMPKINS

Artist Betty Tompkins, whose work frequently explores physical intimacy through a feminist lens, told ARTnews that she has been kicked off Instagram for sharing an image of her Fuck Painting #1 (1969), which is in the collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The work is the first in a series of photorealistic paintings she made of sex, many of which feature genitalia.

The artist said she posted the image—which shows the painting in question in a catalogue—to the photo-sharing platform between 6 and 7 a.m. on Friday, April 26. (She noted that it was garnering attention, accruing hundreds of likes and numerous comments). That afternoon, Instagram took the image down, and Tompkins subsequently shared a photo of a textual description of the work, which appears on the previous page of the publication, with her 15,000 followers.

The following day, she found that her account (@bettytompkinsart) had been deactivated for violating the platform’s community standards or guidelines. Tompkins, who has been an Instagram user for four or five years and has had posts removed in the past, has attempted to report the problem formally, and she encouraged others on Twitter to do the same. Artist Clarity Haynes has also called attention to Tompkins’s expulsion from Instagram.

At the time this article was published, the artist is still awaiting a response from Instagram, which she said has barred her from creating a new account. Tompkins, whose work has previously been censored by governments in France and Japan, emphasized the indispensability of Instagram for artists working today.

“What I realized, which I don’t think I ever have before, is how embedded Instagram is in our professional life,” she said. “I’m not getting those things out in front of people [with a disabled account].”

Tompkins added, “A woman does anything that has anything to do with sexuality and gets stomped to the ground.”

ARTnews has reached out to Instagram for comment, and this post will be updated if we hear back.

Update 4/30/19, 12:18 p.m.: Instagram has reinstated Betty Tompkins’s account. She did not receive further information from the platform regarding the deactivation of her account. 

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