Joan Brown

American (San Francisco, California, 1938 - 1990, Puttaparthi, India)

Noel in the Kitchen

ca. 1964
painting | oil on canvas
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  • Noel in the Kitchen

    Joan Brown, Noel in the Kitchen, ca. 1964; oil on canvas, 60 in. x 108 in. (152.4 cm x 274.32 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Bequest of Dale C. Crichton; © Estate of Joan Brown

Painter and assemblage artist Joan Brown is considered part of the second generation of the Bay Area Figurative movement. Her best-known paintings prominently feature autobiographical scenes. This is particularly true of the works she made after she and her husband, the sculptor Manuel Neri, had their son Noel. In Noel in the Kitchen, Brown focused on the immediate domestic surroundings of her home and studio on Saturn Street, near the Twin Peaks neighborhood of San Francisco. The toddler, flanked by loyal puppies in profile, reaches up to the kitchen sink, which is stacked with a still life of dirty dishes.

Painted in a bright palette of primary hues, the work is rich in rhythm and design, with repeated colors, squares, and polka dots. At this early stage in Brown's career, her handling of paint was raw, almost wild, and resulted in thickly built-up surfaces. "I loved what happened when I was using the trowel," she remarked, "[and] the physical exuberance of just whipping through it with a big, giant brush."

60 in. x 108 in. (152.4 cm x 274.32 cm)
Acquired 1989
Collection SFMOMA
Bequest of Dale C. Crichton
© Estate of Joan Brown


interiors, domestic, kitchens, sinks, dishware, household items, children, boys, dogs, pets, animals, checkerboard patterns, impasto

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