Self-Portrait with Swimming Coach Charlie Sava

Self-Portrait with Swimming Coach Charlie Sava

Joan Brown, American, 1938-1990
Born: San Francisco, CA
Work Locations: San Francisco, CA
United States
Enamel on canvas
Gift of Polly and Mark Addison

Joan Brown
Self-Portrait with Swimming Coach Charlie Sava, at Larsen Pool, San Francisco, 1974

Enamel on canvas
35 ¾” x 50 1/8” x 1 5/8” (framed)
Denver Art Museum:
Gift of Polly and Mark Addison, 2005.20

(c) Joan Brown Estate
Photograph courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

frame height: 35 3/4 in, 90.805 cm; frame width: 50 1/8 in, 127.3175 cm; frame depth: 1 5/8 in, 4.1275 cm
Modern and Contemporary Art
Modern and Contemporary Art
Dissatisfied with her first abstract paintings, Bay-Area figurative painter Joan Brown stopped painting for five years after teaching for a summer and making collages at the University of Colorado, Boulder with her then-husband, Manuel Neri. Once back in San Francisco, she realized she needed to express herself in more personal terms. Changing both style and subject, she decided to use slick enamel paint, often applied to Masonite, and a more disciplined style that eliminated spatial illusion and seamless modeling. Her subjects included family, friends, and animals—a personal iconography both mundane and significant to her. This double portrait was of special significance to Brown. She had developed a passion for long-distance swimming, with the help of her coach, Charlie Sava, and nearly drowned on her first attempt to reach Alcatraz. (She succeeded on her subsequent attempt.) Her intensity and clarity of purpose is evident in this self-portrait with Mr. Sava.
Exhibition History
  • "Focus: Robert Motherwell"--Denver Art Museum, 9/15/2011 - 3/9/2014