Joan Semmel is an American painter, professor and writer, best known for unashamedly exploring female sexuality and her body through art.
In the 1970s Semmel returned to New York at the height of the feminist art movement, at a time when uncensored and highly objectified images of women proliferated the media. This triggered the start of her figurative paintings which seek to reclaim female subjectivity. In her paintings her body is neither idealised nor objectified. She states, “My intention has been to subvert the tradition of the passive female nude.”
Untitled is one of Semmel’s self-described ‘shifting images.’ She gazes into a mirror, holding a camera. Her naked body is blurred in a way that suggests motion, vitality and temporality, reflecting her perception of ageing. As she has aged, she has continued to represent, observe and embrace her body with honesty and self-examination, right into her eighties.