Joan Brown

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the American painter, for another Joan Browne see the mother of Alan Alda.
Joan Brown
AAA jacomimi 8484.jpg
Joan Brown, 1975 / Mimi Jacobs, photographer. [Photographs of artists taken by Mimi Jacobs, photographer], Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Born Joan Vivien Beatty
(1938-02-13)February 13, 1938
San Francisco, California
Died October 26, 1990(1990-10-26) (aged 52)
Puttaparthi, India
Nationality American
Education California School of Fine Arts (1955-1960) (BFA, 1959; MFA, 1960)
Known for Painting
Movement Bay Area Figurative Movement

James D. Phelan Award (1962)
Mademoiselle Merit Award (1963)
Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (1965)
Adaline Kent Award, San Francisco Art Institute (1973)
National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1976, 1980)
Guggenheim Fellowship (1977)

Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, San Francisco Art Institute (1986)

Joan Brown (February 13, 1938 – October 26, 1990) was an American figurative painter who lived and worked in Northern California. She was a member of the "second generation" of the Bay Area Figurative Movement.[1]

Personal life and education[edit]

Joan Brown was born in 1938 in San Francisco. She studied at the California School of Fine Art (now San Francisco Art Institute), graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1959 and a Master of Arts in 1960.[2] There she met her instructor and mentor Elmer Bischoff. While still a student she had her first solo gallery exhibition in 1958.[3]

In 1956 Brown married William Brown; they were divorced in the early 1960s.[4] She was married to Bay Area Figurative sculptor Manuel Neri from 1962 to 1966, though their relationship and artistic collaboration dated back several years prior to this.[5]


Brown achieved prominence with a style of figurative painting that combined bright color, sometimes cartoonish drawing, and personal symbolism. Her first museum show occurred at the Whitney annual show in New York (now the Whitney Biennial) in 1960 when she was 22. She was the youngest artist to be exhibited that year.[6]

In the 1970s Brown produced autobiographical works based on actual and imagined events.[3] She was a swimmer in amateur competitions and swam in the first women's Golden Gate swim in San Francisco Bay.[4] In 1974 she joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley teaching art.[1] In 1975 she and a group of others nearly drowned during a swim to Alcatraz Island when a passing freighter swamped the group. Her paintings based on the experience included the self-portrait After the Alcatraz Swim #3.[3]

In the late 1970s, Brown became increasingly interested in spirituality and New Age ideas, eventually becoming an adherent of Sathya Sai Baba. She made a number of trips to his ashram in Puttaparthi, India. She withdrew from painting later on and concentrated on public sculpture. Her influences were Egyptian and Hindu icons.[6] In 1990, she died in a construction accident while installing an obelisk at the Sai Baba's Eternal Heritage Museum – "Sanathana Samskruti" in Puttaparthi, India.[7][8][9]


  1. ^ a b Glueck, Grace. "Joan Brown, Artist and Professor, 52; Inspired by Ancients", The New York Times, Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  2. ^ Handy, Amy (1989). "Artist's Biographies - Joan Brown". In Randy Rosen; Catherine C. Brower. Making Their Mark. Women Artists Move into the Mainstream, 1970-1985. Abbeville Press. p. 241. ISBN 0-89659-959-0. 
  3. ^ a b c Stein, Judith E.; Ann-Sargent Wooster (1989). "Making Their Mark - Reviving Representation". In Randy Rosen; Catherine C. Brower. Making Their Mark. Women Artists Move into the Mainstream, 1970-1985. Abbeville Press. pp. 75–77. ISBN 0-89659-959-0. 
  4. ^ a b "Biography". Joan Brown Estate. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  5. ^ Strong, Charles; Whitney Chadwick (1995). Working Together—Joan Brown and Manuel Neri, 1958-1964: March 21-April 29, 1995. Wiegand Gallery, College of Notre Dame. 
  6. ^ a b Knight, Brenda, ed. (1998). Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution. Conari Press. pp. 327–330. ISBN 978-1-57324-138-0. 
  7. ^ "Internationally Known Bay Area Artist Dies in Museum Accident in India", Associated Press, October 28, 1990. (Accessed via LexisNexis Academic, 2008-03-15.)
  8. ^ "Joan Brown, Art: Berkeley", University of California: In Memoriam, 1991.
  9. ^ Tsujimoto K, Baas J. (1998). The Art of Joan Brown. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21468-4 (hardbound), ISBN 0-520-21469-2 (paperback).


External links[edit]