Joan Semmel A’52


Joan Semmel A’52 received the Cooper Union President’s Citation Award in 1984. She is an artist whose self-image paintings from the 1970s have become iconic feminist works of art. Following her graduation from The Cooper Union, she lived in Spain for seven years and created abstract expressionist works. Upon returning to the United States and encountering the feminist movement, she began to paint the self-image nudes for which she became well known. In these paintings, she presented her body and lovers from her own vantage point, often including her body as viewer. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at the MOCA in Los Angeles, National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, Wexner Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, Jack S. Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas, and the Museum voor Moderne in Arden, Netherlands. She has also exhibited work at the Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona, the Museum of Plastic Arts in Montevideo, Uruguay, the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. More recently, Semmel’s work has reconsidered the female gaze from the perspective of her maturing body. She retired from teaching in 2000 and is Professor Emeritus at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and was a member of Women in the Arts and the Women’s Ad Hoc Committee. She continues to paint, exhibit and lecture.

Joan Semmel A’52 was inducted into the Cooper Union Hall of Fame in 2009.

Link to Video on ArtForum

Link to 2013 Exhibit

Link to 2015 Exhibit

2015 Article about Joan Semmel on Columbia Spectator