Returning to New York from Spain in 1970, Joan Semmel reflected, “I had returned from Spain looking for the ‘sexual revolution’ and instead found sexual commercialization that mostly showed female bodies for sale. I wanted to find an erotic visual language that would speak to women. I was convinced that the repression of women began in the sexual arena, and this would need to be addressed at the source.” Committing herself to this mission, she created her Sex Paintings (1971). Working from sketches, she depicted men and women locked in explicit and intimate embraces. Painted in a gestural style and using expressive color, these large-scale works reflect Semmel’s training as an Abstract Expressionist.