Since the 1970s, Joan Semmel has centered her practice around representations of the body from a female perspective, often focused on self-portraiture. Red Hand (2019) belongs to a recent group of paintings wherein the figure fills the frame in a manner that echoes the in-camera cropping of the photographs Semmel takes as the basis for her compositions, as the folding midsection of the body moves toward abstraction through an emphasis on shapes and curves. As in other recent paintings, Semmel has returned to the brilliant colors first seen in the Sex Paintings for which she gained recognition early in her career. The palette with which she renders the body suggests a canvas within a canvas, with warm reds and oranges punctuated by shadow areas of purple and blue. The loose brushwork, itself full of color, traces back to her roots in Abstract Expressionism.
2022: Joan Semmel: Skin in the Game, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 2021: Joan Semmel: Skin in the Game, Pennsylvania Academy for the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA 2021: A Balancing Act, Alexander Gray Associates, New York, NY
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Spens, Christiana and Joan Semmel. “Joan Semmel – interview: ‘I was simply not excluding those who did not conform to any preconceived notions of beauty.” Studio international, February 18, 2022.
Throckmorton, Jodi eds. Joan Semmel: Skin in the Game. Exh. cat. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2021, pp. 122–23.