Semmel turned to the figure in order to gain a personal viewpoint expressing personal and social concerns through her plastic interpretations of self-definition within her environment. In her early career as an artist, Semmel confronts the viewer with a women’s gaze as she documents a sexually engaged couple in multiple coital positions, rendered in a smooth photorealist style. Semmel progresses onto m self-reflective context as she discovers the power of a self-image, engaging in the exploration of psychic states and gender identity. Semmel uses her body not only as an objected but as a self-inquiring and social interface concerned with; “painting as a medium, the nature of representation and the mode of translating the photographic into the painted Image”. Semmel argues that her paintings are not her, as the composition separates the self from its reflection, or imitation of a painted representation, and therefore removes the female body from any notion of a personal essence. However, she represents her own body as she would experience it herself from observation confronting her own body, as a woman spectator, rejecting traditional modes of female representation and complicates the relationship between the viewer and the viewed. This is seem in her work’ Intimacy- Autonomy, depicting Semmel and a lover, “the two bodies charged with visual excitement and… the artist’s quest for empowerment, while enjoying the pleasure of an interment relationship”. Semmel moved from personal images to documenting herself in more public places, at the beach and in the locker room where Semmel deconstructs the “masquerade” as a notion where women prepare to re-enter the male gaze of a public space. After decades of painting the erotic self her works has transitioned into the context of a spectator with her aging body remains current to the discourse of the female body.
Lucian Freud argued his works were an attempt to record him self-within his surroundings documenting people he was interested in within a familiar space. He argues that the difference between what is painted and photographed is the degree to which feelings can interject into the transaction of documentation. Freud invites individual for long sittings where he studies and initiates a relationship with them through his painting process. Freud States that he “wants to paint work as flesh…. I would wish for my portraiture to be of the people, not like them. Having the look of the sitter but being them. As far as I am concerned Paint is the person.” This is evident in Freud’s portraits of his mother some of his most tender works and equally couscous to the study of old age. These works have a fierce honestl[PH1] y which is evident in his charcoal drawing The Painters mother dead, illustrating a clarity of her non-living state rather than depicting her in a sleeping manner. This sensation of illustrating honesty remains evident in his self- portraits as he describes them as a moment to be naked and alone and became progressively self-reflective. Frueds use of mirrors demonstrates this reflection as he appears naked in Interior with plant, reflection listening, behind a large plant as if an extension of it cupping his ear. Freud remained interested in the flesh through his portraiture of friends and family, nude paintings and self- portraits. He comments “I am really interested in people as animals. Part of my liking to work from them naked is for that reason… I like people to look as natural and as physically at ease as animals”. Throughout his artist career he remained concerned with how people looked and felt defined within his own setting.
 Joan Marter, “Joan Semmel’s Nudes: The Erotic Self and the Masquerade” Woman’s Art Journal, 16. no.2 (1996): 24.
 Ibid, 24-25.
 Ibid, 25.
 Johanna Burton, “Joan Semmel” Artforum international, 49, no.10 (2011): 402.
 Palmer Museum of Art, Through the Looking Glass, (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004), 32-33.
 Marter, 25.
 Ibid, 26-27.
 Ibid, 27.
 Sarah Howgate, Lucian Freud Portraits, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 14.
 Robert Hughes, Lucian Freud paintings, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1987), 18.
 Catherine Lampert, Lucain Freud: recent work, (London: the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1993), 12.
 Howegate, 27.
 Ibid, 29.
 Ibid, 32.
 Ibid, 19.