Joan Brown

This exhibition is the first major survey of Joan Brown (American, 1938–1990) in over 20 years, and offers a compelling look at the prolific career of a painter known for her large-scale, high-key portraits of family, animals, and herself.

Organized chronologically, Joan Brown presents 44 objects, including paintings and sculptures, and traces the depth and evolution of the artist’s 35-year career as a painter, starting with her art school days in 1950s San Francisco to her premature death at age 52. While Brown focused on abstraction in the late 1950s, her paintings took on a charming and fantastical figurative style later in her career.

The playful, imaginative, and autobiographical work of Joan Brown draws inspiration from a variety of sources to create a charmingly offbeat body of work that embraces whimsy and weightier themes. Driven by a deep and lifelong curiosity, her later works showcase an ever-expanding symbology as she pursued a more spiritual, metaphysical path.

Joan Brown is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is curated by Janet Bishop, Thomas Weisel Family Chief Curator and Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA, and Nancy Lim, Associate Curator, Painting and Sculpture, SFMOMA. Carnegie Museum of Art’s presentation is organized by Liz Park, Richard Armstrong Curator of Contemporary Art at Carnegie Museum of Art with Cynthia Stucki, curatorial assistant for contemporary art and photography.