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Joan Brown

November 19, 2020

Painting by Joan Brown titled Woman Waiting in a Restaurant from 1975

"Woman Waiting in a Restaurant," 1975

Born in northern California in 1938, #JoanBrown was only 22 when her work was featured in a 1960 survey exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art. She also married young, like many women of her generation, and, as the story goes, fell ill with mono just before her first wedding (she would go on to marry three more times). While recuperating, she studied the works European masters such as Rembrandt and Diego Velázquez, which ignited her passion for painting and, as she said, gave her a “tremendous surge of energy.” She went on to study with Elmer Bischoff, a first-generation member of the Bay Area Figurative Movement, an influential group of painters who lived and worked in northern California in the latter half of the last century. Brown would later join the movement, mining her own life for her subject matter, even as her style evolved over several periods — from somewhat abstract, to more figurative and, ultimately, evident of a focus on the mystical.


“Joan Brown” — a new solo show that opens today and runs through Dec. 24 at New York City's Venus Over Manhattan (@v_over_m) gallery — features paintings of the artist's from the late '60s through mid-'70s. In vibrant hues, her pieces (as seen here) often depict women and animals and use recurring motifs such as checkered tiles. Brown, who throughout her life maintained her freedom and independence despite the demands of the commercial art world, died in 1990 in Puttaparthi, India, at the age of 52. Pictured: “Woman Waiting in a Restaurant,” 1975; “Self-Portrait in Fur Hat,” 1972; “Woman Preparing for a Shower,” 1975.

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