Joan Semmel

Locker-Room Series

1988–91

Blow Dry, 1990

Oil On Canvas

68h x 78w in (172.72h x 198.12w cm)

Shower Stalls, 1990

Oil On Canvas

66h x 72w in (167.64h x 182.88w cm)

Woman With Towel, 1989

Oil On Canvas

34h x 24w in (86.36h x 60.96w cm)

Mirror Mirror, 1988

Oil On Canvas

68h x 78w in (172.72h x 198.12w cm)

Description

Joan Semmel began investigating the aging process in 1988 with her Locker-Room series (1988—91), which captured women engaged in various beautification rituals in gym locker rooms. Intrigued by these mirror-lined spaces, Semmel explains, “In this landscape of Narcissus I wanted to engage the possibility of a female self-articulation, and conversely a necessary self-indifference.” Featuring accurate portraits of middle-aged bodies, these works capitalize on the ability of mirrors and the camera to, in Semmel’s words, “destabilize the point of view … and to engage the viewer as a participant.” Boasting refracted and doubled images of the artist’s own body, the series anticipates Semmel’s later With Camera works (2001—06), in which she poses nude with her camera. As she expands, “[In these paintings] I wanted it to be clear you’re seeing an image of me in a mirror. It’s flat, reversed—neither the painting nor the photograph is ‘reality.’”