Woman Reading (1957). David Park (American, 1911-1960). Oil on canvas.
In the 1950s, the San Francisco Bay Area was an epicenter for new thinking and artistic exploration. At the center was Park, whose bold colors and everyday subjects helped usher in a new modernism. In search of a form beyond the then-popular Abstract Expressionism. Park started the Bay Area Figurative Movement.
Joan Brown’s “Nun with Staffordshire Terrier” (1961) is an example of the vibrant brand of figurative expressionism that flourished in the San Francisco Bay area from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s. The richly textured painting fuses genre subject matter with the gestural brushwork of Abstract Expressionism. Brown’s choice of subject matter may reflect memories of her childhood experiences attending parochial school.