Joan Semmel at Alexander Gray

Joan Semmel's paintings continue her iconic interpretation of the self-nude at Alexander Gray. They were luminous, painterly, seductive images of an aging female body.  I've included a lot of details to show her economy of marks and mastery of color.  Erik La Prade interviewed Semmel for Bomb Magazine in 2020 and asked her about the irony in her work as it related to the idealization of beauty. Semmel responded "Back then, I looked at the body, but I thought abstractly. I was formulating my images rather than just what I was seeing. That’s why, very often, those paintings were seen as landscapes. Formulating them abstractly gave them their dynamic power. Then there is the overlay of what I was trying to say in terms of myself as a woman, not just what the abstraction was, and that’s what you’re talking about in terms of the contradiction."

Joan Semmel, Red Hand, 2019, Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in 

Detail: Joan Semmel, Red Hand 

Joan Semmel, Pink Lean, 2019, Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in 

Detail: Joan Semmel, Pink Lean 

Joan Semmel, Couch Dyptych, 2019, Oil on canvas, 72 x 120 in 


Detail: Joan Semmel, Couch Dyptych, 2019, Oil on canvas, 72 x 120 in 

Joan Semmel, Touching Toes, 2019, Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in 

Detail: Joan Semmel, Touching Toes

Detail: Joan Semmel, Touching Toes




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