Joan Brown 1938–1990

American figurative painter Joan Brown was part of the second generation of the Bay Area Figurative movement. Brown studied at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) and was taught and mentored by Elmer Bischoff. Her early work reflects the style of her mentor but, by the mid-1960s, she moved toward autobiographical and spiritual themes. In a predominantly flat, decorative style, Brown painted countless everyday scenes from her own life as well as figures and animals in imaginative ways. In 1975 she joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley and within a few years her work evolved, largely due to her budding interest in New Age ideas and growing friendship with Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba.

Brown’s focus shifted toward larger-scale works, sculpture, mosaic tiles, and non-Western subjects such as Egyptian and Hindu icons. She traveled widely, producing paintings and sculptures that were reflective of the new cultures she experienced. Tragically, she died on one such trip to India in 1990 at Sai Baba's Eternal Heritage Museum in Puttaparthi while assisting in the installation of one of her obelisk sculptures. A concrete turret collapsed on Brown and two assistants, killing them instantly and cutting short what was sure to be Brown’s long and illustrious artistic career. Brown’s vibrant, imaginative, and introspective creations remain as a legacy of her singular talent and vision.

Auction Results Joan Brown