1885 - 1965
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Still-life with Self-Portrait c. 1930
The son of a tanner, Avery began working at a local factory at the age of 16, and supported himself for decades with a succession of blue-collar jobs. The death of his brother-in-law in 1915 left Avery, as the sole remaining adult male in his household, responsible for the support of nine female relatives. wikipedia
At the beginning of his career, when he lived in Connecticut, Milton Avery (1885-1965) was influenced by American Impressionists--Inness, Lawson and Twachtman. But when he moved to New York in 1925 he was exposed to a wider variety of contemporary work and his work became more abstract, though always remaining recognizably representational. Matisse was a strong influence on him and, in turn, his brilliance as a colorist influenced a generation of Color Field painters.
Portrait of Annette Kaufman
Wife of American violinist Louis Kaufman
Annette Kaufman standing with portrait
Milton Avery brought together simple, spare forms and harmonious colors to build patterns of flat, interlocking shapes reminiscent of French artist Henri Matisse. He frequently depicted family, friends and the familiar landscapes, simplifying and refining the imagery into strong formal patterns.
The Group (After Dinner Coffee)
The Three Graces
(the artist's wife)
Early in his career his work was considered too radical for being too abstract; when Abstract Expressionismbecame dominant his work was overlooked, as being too representational.
Sketching by the Sea
"Nature is my springboard. From her I get my initial impetus. I have tried to relate the visible drama of mountains, trees, and bleached fields with the fantasy of wind blowing and changing colors and forms." ~ Milton Avery
Girl in a Blue Nighgown
(Sara, the artist's daughter)
Susan Stamberg describes the works as abstract but accessible. "The paintings of Milton Avery are rooted in home and hearth," she says. "He was a very personal painter. A painter of the familiar -- his family, his studio, a seascape he loved. And friends" NPR -"Discovering Milton Avery"
Birds and Sea
Although never associated with a particular movement, Avery was a key modernist who influenced succeeding generations of artists including Color Field painters Mark Rothko.