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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.

Self-Portrait with Fish and Cat

Artist: Joan Brown (1938 - 1990)
Date: 1970
96 × 48 in. (243.8 × 121.9 cm)
Framed: 97 3/4 × 49 3/4 × 3 5/8 in.
Medium: Oil enamel on board
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2015.20
Signed: verso: [signed, titled, and dated]
On View
Accession Number: 2015.20
ProvenanceEstate of the Artist, 1990; (George Adams Gallery, New York, NY); purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2015
Label TextIn this self-portrait, Joan Brown presents herself as an artist with depth. She denotes her occupation by picturing herself wielding a paintbrush, but also includes two animals in the painting to reveal more of her identity. The fish is a reference to Brown’s passion for swimming, which appears as a topic in many of her paintings and remained part of her daily routine throughout her life. The black cat at the bottom of the composition is named Leela, one of Brown’s many pets over the years that often appeared in her works. Brown incorporated a litany of animals into her paintings, representing more than just a love of them. She often spoke of her spiritual connection to animals, particularly her pets. Brown believed that animals forged a psychic bond with humans, and her paintings often alluded to the depth of this relationship.