I fell in love with Joan Brown's painting Girl in Chair (1962) while wandering around LACMA one afternoon. After doing some research on Brown, I was captivated by her explorations into the self. For Brown, art was autobiographical. She created many self-portraits that documented her inner life on canvas. She termed these representations of the self - interior attitudes.
“The exterior part of art is very, very fickle and very, very chancy, so you concentrate on the interior elements.” - Joan Brown
In 1986, LA Times art critic Colin Gardner criticized Brown for her "self-righteous body of work" in his review of her exhibition From the Heart. He also criticized Frida Kahlo's paintings for having the same "self-righteous" qualities. These types of criticisms reveal a ugly double standard that values the self-righteousness of men while labeling works by women who explore same emotional complexities as self-absorption. And that's why I love Joan Brown. She had a hand in the elevation of female artists and the expression of their multifaceted experiences, feelings, and desires.
So how do we get to point where we can stop asking: Why have there been no great women artists? Paint self-righteously ladies.