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Joan Semmel

Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art

On View: American Identities: A New Look, American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Beyond Borders and Boundaries, 20th and 21st Centuries, 5th Floor
Since the 1970s Joan Semmel has radicalized the nude figure with her unflinching explorations of female sexuality. Appearing here as the subject of her own work, Semmel places her monumental, headless form alongside her male partner’s. Both bodies, rendered in unsettling blue and green tones, express a sense of self-possessed eroticism. The artist used photography to capture her figure from a first-person perspective, producing a dramatically foreshortened image. This unusual orientation shifts the subject from a passive model to an active agent, forging a feminist approach to representing the female nude.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1974
DIMENSIONS 50 x 98 in. (127 x 248.9 cm) frame: 51 5/16 x 99 9/16 x 1 5/8 in. (130.3 x 252.9 x 4.1 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Anonymous gift
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CAPTION Joan Semmel (American, born 1932). Intimacy-Autonomy, 1974. Oil on canvas, 50 x 98 in. (127 x 248.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Anonymous gift, 2004.117. © Joan Semmel
IMAGE overall, 2004.117_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2005
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