Movement: Modern Art
Education: Connecticut League of Art Students, Hartford; Art Society, Hartford
Milton Avery's Famous Artworks
“Three Figures and a Dog,” 1943
“Blue Nude,” 1947
“Shapes of Spring,” 1952
“Advancing Sea,” 1953
“Green Sea,” 1958
“Sea Grasses and Blue Sea,” 1958
Milton Avery was one of the most eminent American modern painters of the 20th century. Predominantly a colorist, his work
shows colorful and serene landscapes with lyrical use of color.
Milton Avery's Early Life
Milton Avery was born in 1885 in Altmar, New York. His father tanned hides for a living. To support himself, at the age of 16 he started working at a local factory. Thereafter, he worked successive blue-collar jobs to earn his living. In 1915, Avery lost his brother-in-law, leaving him solely responsible for his family. He faced these difficult times, and still pursued art. He studied at the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford between 1905 and 1918, where he was taught by Charles Noel Flagg. Then, he attended classes at the Art Society in Hartford. From 1917 onwards, he took up night jobs with an insurance company, and with manufacturers, so he could paint during the day.
Milton Avery's Marriage and Move to New York
In 1924, Avery met Sally Michel, who was pursuing her art degree from the Art Students League in New York. To be closer to her, he moved to New York in 1925 and they were married in 1926. Michel’s salary as an illustrator allowed him to concentrate fully on his art. Their daughter March Avery was born in 1932.
During the late 1920’s and early1930’s, Avery would practice his art at the Art Students League. Here, his work was noticed by the art patron Roy Neuberger. With the intention of getting Avery’s work greater exposure, Neuberger bought 100 of his paintings and distributed or lent them to museums around the world. With his work shown in high-profile museums
, he achieved a considerable amount of success and fame.
Milton Avery's Phase of Maturation
Although Avery exhibited extensively in the 1930’s, many believe his work reached a mature phase in 1943 when he joined Paul Rosenberg’s Gallery. He was well-respected and sought after in the art world. However, he never followed trends, remaining a solitary figure free from the constraints of a single style.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Avery’s work was characterized by a reduction of rudimentary form and a blurring of detail, while laying emphasis on random colors. This style has been seen as being extremely close to that of Matisse. Avery’s work
acts as a bridge between the Representational style (his early work) and Abstraction (which characterized his later works).
Avery worked with an absolute commitment to his personal aesthetic and ideas. He was a prolific painter, working for weeks on end, even making six paintings a day.
Milton Avery's Death and Legacy
Milton Avery passed away in January 1965. He was buried at the artist’s cemetery at Woodstock, Ulster County, New York. After his death, Sally Avery, his widow donated his personal papers to a research center at the Smithsonian Institute called the Archives of American Art. In 2007, the papers were scanned and are now available online as the Milton Avery Papers. His work has inspired various American colorists such as Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko. He is becoming more famous as time passes, and is now considered one of the most influential American artists of the 20th century. You can buy Milton Avery's artworks online
Milton Avery's Exhibitions
1944 - Phillips Collections, Washington DC
1959 - MoMA, New York
2008 - Coral Springs Museum of Art, USA
2010 - Knoedler & Company, New York
2011 - Nassau County Museum of Art, New York
2013 - DC Moore Gallery, New York
2015 - DC Moore Gallery, New York
Milton Avery's Collections/Museums
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Art Institute of Chicago
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Tate Gallery, London
Phillips Collections, Washington DC
“Milton Avery” by Barbara Haskell
“Milton Avery and the End of Modernism” by Karl Emil Willers
“Milton Avery: The Late Paintings” by Robert Hobbs
“Milton Avery: Mexico” by Dore Ashton