Joan Brown was an American painter and prominent member of the second generation of the Bay Area Figurative artists. Working in a thickly pigmented and textural style, the imagery in Brown’s work was often drawn from her personal life. Her paintings frequently depicted women and animals, while later in her career she integrated mystical and New Age imagery using simplified stylizations and strong narrative themes. “How do I know when I’ve finished a painting?” Brown said in a 1979 interview. “It’s when that element of surprise is there. I can feel the flow start to happen just in terms of working, which is actually an altered state of consciousness.”
Born on February 13, 1938 in San Francisco, CA, she went on to study at the California School of Fine Art under Elmer Bischoff. She also befriended Richard Diebenkorn and Manuel Neri, and was included in the annual survey exhibition held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1960 when she was just 22 years old. Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. Brown died at the age of 59 on October 26, 1990 while helping to an install an obelisk she designed in Puttaparthi, India.