Joyce Kozloff was born in Somerville, New Jersey in 1942. After taking summer courses at a number of art institutions in the United States and Italy, Kozloff received a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University. In 1967, Kozloff earned an MFA from Columbia University before marrying her husband, Max Kozloff, an art critic and photographer, the same year. In the 1970s, Kozloff was actively involved in the feminist art movements in Los Angeles and New York City. She was a founding member of the Los Angeles Council of Women Artists, an organization which advocated for more female representation in local art institutions.