Joan Semmel

Mannequins

1996—2001

Multiples, 1998

Oil On Canvas

58h x 48w in (147.32h x 121.92w cm)

Odalesque, 1998

Oil On Canvas

54h x 66w in (137.16h x 167.64w cm)

Description

Joan Semmel was inspired to create her Mannequins paintings (1996—2001) after she saw old mannequins abandoned on the street. Adopting their idealized forms as symbols of women’s objectification and fetishization, she created compositions that featured isolated, cracked, and discarded models. Their derelict bodies invite viewers to construct nuanced narratives around gendered societal roles. As Semmel writes, “The haunting beautiful faces, broken parts and empty armholes were eloquent witnesses to the way women were valued for their youth and beauty and discarded in later years as powerless and no longer viable.”