The Art of …

… ageing body positivity in portraiture, by Joan Semmel

The pictures are below the fold because they are nudes and are NSFW. They are unusual because they portray the ageing female body in a positive light. The story is from HuffPost, and the artist describes her work thusly,

“I painted in layers so that the evidence of age would not be erased by virtuoso paint handling. The sensuality of the flesh permeates these paintings, a sensuality that is not confined to youth. I had entered into a relationship with artist John Hardy, with whom I lived for 21 years before he passed away in 2014. These late years were empowering and rewarding in every sense, something I hoped to communicate through my work.

“The issues of the body from desire to aging, as well as those of identity and cultural imprinting, have been at the core of my concerns. The carnal nature of paint has seemed to me a perfect metaphor, the specifics of image, a necessary elaboration. The last 45 years of work, I think, reveal my ongoing interest in both process and relevance.”

Transitions, 2012, Jan Semmel. Image from HuffPost.

Recline, 2005, Joan Semmel. Image from Huffpost.

Skin Patterns, 2013, Joan Semmel. Image from HuffPost.



  1. Ice Swimmer says

    The bodies are shown in positive light indeed. The pictures feel warm.

    The first one gives strong vibes of sauna and washing, which makes it sensual without overt sexuality in my eyes. I suspect the artist hasn’t meant it that way, but I think art lives a life of its own.

  2. StevoR says

    People are people.

    Bodies are bodies.

    They are us.In various forms.

    Humans being human.

    Exposed, stripped down. Humbled. In essence. In the flesh.


    When did we all become so scandalous

    Just being ourselves in our own bodies and nothing else?

  3. StevoR says

    PS. Yet I type that hypocritically wishing so much my own body was different and I was another species altogether..

    FWIW… :-(

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