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.