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Joan Semmel

American, b. 1932

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Joan Semmel

American, b. 1932

425
Followers
Biography

Joan Semmel paints couples in coital positions and realistic portraits of female nudes in dynamic compositions, examining female sexuality and subverting the historically passive role of the female subject. Semmel began her artistic career painting Abstract Expressionist works, later turning to her trademark figurative paintings that explore erotic themes. In “Erotic Series”, Semmel presents large-scale depictions of couples and individuals in sexual positions, with flesh tones that are typically colorful and luminous. More recently she has addressed the aging body in nude self-portraits and incorporated mirrors and cameras into her compositions, complicating their points of view. “Rather than simply self-representation, I am interested in the possibility of a female self-articulation,” she has said. Her work has been compared to the nudes of Philip Pearlstein and Lucien Freud, as well as to Cindy Sherman’s representations of the female.

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 2 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 2 more
Biography

Joan Semmel paints couples in coital positions and realistic portraits of female nudes in dynamic compositions, examining female sexuality and subverting the historically passive role of the female subject. Semmel began her artistic career painting Abstract Expressionist works, later turning to her trademark figurative paintings that explore erotic themes. In “Erotic Series”, Semmel presents large-scale depictions of couples and individuals in sexual positions, with flesh tones that are typically colorful and luminous. More recently she has addressed the aging body in nude self-portraits and incorporated mirrors and cameras into her compositions, complicating their points of view. “Rather than simply self-representation, I am interested in the possibility of a female self-articulation,” she has said. Her work has been compared to the nudes of Philip Pearlstein and Lucien Freud, as well as to Cindy Sherman’s representations of the female.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 2 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 2 more
Articles Featuring Joan Semmel
Body Issues: The Pleasures of Painting Skin
Feb 20th, 2020
Body Issues: The Pleasures of Painting Skin
The Bad Boy Artists of the 1980s Owe a Debt to Their Feminist Predecessors
Mar 1st, 2019
The Bad Boy Artists of the 1980s Owe a Debt to Their Feminist Predecessors
After Four Decades, Painter Joan Semmel Still Refuses to Romanticize the Human Body
Oct 16th, 2018
After Four Decades, Painter Joan Semmel Still Refuses to Romanticize the Human Body
The Pioneering Women Who Championed Sexually Explicit Art
Sep 20th, 2016
The Pioneering Women Who Championed Sexually Explicit Art
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