The first retrospective of Joan Semmel’s work—sixty years of the iconic artist’s groundbreaking paintings, from her early abstract-expressionist paintings through her movement-defining feminist art and activism to the vital work that she is making of her own mature body today.
Joan Semmel: Skin in the Game brings together almost sixty years of Semmel’s groundbreaking paintings, including important institutional loans; a selection of her rarely-seen drawings and collages; and a robust grouping of her current work, which foregrounds the exhibition in her still active studio practice.
The exhibition will include approximately 40 paintings that show the remarkable continuity and assiduity of Semmel’s practice, and focus on four main themes—erotic abstraction; the self; expressive figuration; and photography and painting—that traverse five decades of work and reveal a strong counter narrative to the traditional telling of the history of painting in the United States from the late 1960s to today.
Semmel’s work reflects the ongoing struggle for women’s equal representation and power to make decisions about their own bodies and sexuality while centering female empowerment through the self. In Semmel’s own words: “I do not pretend to address the problems of all women in the world. My work is personal and I speak for myself. Women artists have to speak for themselves and then unite to fight the political fight.”