Milton Avery (1885-1965)

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Milton Avery was an American painter of the modernist movement. While Avery was born in Altmar, New York, he spent most of his career in New York City. As a young adult, Avery was put to work at the local factory to help support his family. After the death oh his father and brother and law, Avery was responsible for his mother and many sisters. Despite his busy work schedule, Avery’s interest in art peaked at an early age. Avery started taking part-time classes at the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford. Over time, Avery rearranged his schedule so he could spend as much time painting as possible.

In 1926, Avery married a young artist, Sally Michel, who helped support Avery by working as an illustrator. The artistic couple lived together in New York City, where Avery enrolled at the Art Students League. Luckily for Avery, a collector Roy Neuberger, bought over one hundred of his paintings and donated them to international museums. Neuberger helped to spread Avery’s name and reputation as an influential painter.

Avery painted representational subjects in an abstracted manner. His paintings focus on color theory rather than perspective and shadow. Much like the work of Matisse, Avery used colorful shapes and forms in a poetic manner. Avery’s work fell in between the abstract and abstract expressionist movements, not quite adhering to one particular aesthetic.

The first museum to purchase one of Avery’s paintings was the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. around 1929. The same museum eventually gave Avery a solo exhibition. By the 1930s Avery was a part of the avant-garde circle in New York, which included artists Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko.

Avery painted consistently until his death in 1965, after which his wife donated many of his personal writings to the Smithsonian Institution. Avery is now acknowledged as a master of twentieth-century art, unifying the abstract and representational. Avery’s work currently belongs to major museums and private collections across the United States. Do you think you own a painting by Milton Avery? Contact us. We are the Milton Avery experts.