Joan Semmel’s Feminist Paintings of The Body


For over four decades, artist Joan Semmel has been depicting the human form through a feminist perspective. She began experiencing gender discrimination early in her career, leading her into the world of feminist politics. Semmel has used her paintings to examine realistic shapes of the body, challenging the normal objectification of female forms. Through her numerous series, she continuously captured a personal view of what raw vulnerability and the female experience means to her. At 86 years old, Semmel sees feminism becoming stronger than ever, with more representation and progressive actions to showcase women artists.


In today’s media, do you believe the female body is still objectified and over-regulated? If so, do you think we are on the right path to changing this?

Further Reading

View Joan Semmel’s extensive life’s work, featuring her paintings of the female body.

Action Item

Look through Semmel’s paintings and see which series speaks to you the most. Ask yourself why that one is your favorite and how you think it conveys the nude through a feminist perspective.

Read more on Artsy Image: Portrait of Joan Semmel by Elfie Semotan. Courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, New York.