Poets, 1958
Oil on canvas
30 x 22 in (76.2 x 55.9 cm)

Joan Brown (1938–1990) was a prolific painter known for her idiosyncratic portraits of family, community, animals, and herself. Born in San Francisco and based in the city for the entirety of her life, Brown was a critically important voice in shaping the Beat era Bay Area art community which included Jay De Feo, Manuel Neri, and Bruce Conner. In the wake of the influence of her mentor Elmer Bischoff at the San Francisco Art Institute, Brown’s early career works of the late 1950s employ thickly and intensely applied paint to create form. As with her later works, the subjects are freely autobiographical and psychologically felt.

Brown is currently the subject of a traveling retrospective which originated at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 2022 and will travel to the Carnegie Museum of Art (2023) and the Orange County Museum of Art (2024).