Joan Semmel


Not on view



Oil on canvas

Overall: 57 1/16 × 103in. (144.9 × 261.6 cm)

Accession number

Self Images series

Credit line
Promised gift of Jeff and Leslie Fischer

Rights and reproductions
© Joan Semmel / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


  • Human Interest

    Joan Semmel, Touch, 1975

    Joan Semmel, Touch, 1975


    Joan Semmel: We were trying to break down the whole way women were seen and perceived, and the way they thought about themselves, and it was an attempt to force the issue so to speak, and make women understand how the way they saw themselves was really important in terms of how they participated in society in every way.

  • Human Interest

    Joan Semmel, Touch, 1975

    Joan Semmel, Touch, 1975


    Joan Semmel: I’m Joan Semmel. I’m an artist, and I live in SoHo.

    Narrator: Semmel painted Touch in 1974.

    Joan Semmel: It’s a representation of a male and female figure in a post or precoital situation. And I was at the time interested in showing the images from a female point of view. So I took photos of the couple—of myself and a partner—from my own point of view.

    I was being confrontational, and I wanted the painting to confront the audience with an image that was different than the way they normally saw this subject. Our softcore porn pictures are essentially the same of images that are in the history of art, where the women are usually placed as a kind of seductive lure to the male eye as much as possible. Which, I don’t have any problem with, except that it doesn’t turn me on [laughs]. And I was interested in finding an erotic language that would be interesting for women. So for me the whole idea of the touch is very important, and one feels the flesh as the most important part of what’s happening.

    Narrator: Semmel was part of an early generation of feminist artists, who wanted their art to have a personal and political impact on their contemporaries. To hear more from Semmel, please tap your screen.

Joan Semmel
1 work

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