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(1885 – 1965), USA

Milton Avery Biography

One of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Milton Avery (1885 - 1965) is celebrated for his luminous paintings of landscapes, figures and still lifes, which balance distillation of form with free, vigorous brushwork and lyrical colour.

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Born in Altmar, New York, in 1885, Milton Avery moved with his family to Hartford, Connecticut in 1905. After studying at the Connecticut League of Art Students, he worked a succession of night jobs in order to paint during the daytime. Avery moved to New York in 1925 and in 1926 married Sally Michel, whose earnings as an illustrator enabled him to concentrate more fully on painting. His first exhibition in New York was in 1927, though it was not until 1935 that he had his first one-man exhibition, at the Valentine Gallery, New York. In 1944 his first solo museum exhibition opened at the Phillips Memorial Gallery, Washington, DC. In 1952 he visited Europe for the first time, travelling to London, Paris and the French Riviera. A retrospective exhibition opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1960; a second retrospective was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1982. In 1962 Milton Avery: Painting 1930-1960 by Hilton Kramer, the first monograph on Avery, was published. Milton Avery died on 3 January 1965 in New York, aged 79.

Avery pursued an independent and steadfast course throughout his career. Always drawing imagery from the world around him, in particular the landscapes and people he loved, his art is as intimate and accessible as it is towering in its ambition and achievement. With his focus on simplified forms and use of colour as a primary means of expression, in the 1930s he profoundly influenced and won the devotion of fellow artists including future abstract expressionists Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb and Barnett Newman. Rothko in particular admired the "gripping lyricism" of Avery's work. However, while seeking to express an idea in its simplest form, Avery never sought pure abstraction for himself. Above all, he is an artist who resists categorisation. "I never have any rules to follow," he stated in 1952, "I follow myself."

Avery's work is represented in museums and private collections worldwide, including: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Tate, London; Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art, Madrid, Spain; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

Text courtesy Victoria Miro.

Milton Avery Featured Artworks

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Girl in Green by Milton Avery contemporary artwork painting
Milton AveryGirl in Green, 1940Oil on canvas
91.4 x 71.1 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Joy by Milton Avery contemporary artwork drawing
Milton AveryJoy, 1960Ink on paper
27.9 x 21.6 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Sally by the Sea by Milton Avery contemporary artwork painting
Milton AverySally by the Sea, 1962Oil on board
76.2 x 61 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Two Poets by Milton Avery contemporary artwork painting
Milton AveryTwo Poets, 1963Oil on canvas
127 x 152.4 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Angular Self-Portrait by Milton Avery contemporary artwork painting
Milton AveryAngular Self-Portrait, 1950Oil on canvas
76.2 x 61 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Young Couple (Husband and Wife) by Milton Avery contemporary artwork painting
Milton AveryYoung Couple (Husband and Wife), 1963Oil on canvas
127 x 152.4 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Wader by Milton Avery contemporary artwork painting
Milton AveryWader, 1963Oil on canvas
61 x 76.2 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Excursion on the Thames by Milton Avery contemporary artwork painting
Milton AveryExcursion on the Thames, 1953Oil on canvas
101.6 x 127 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire

Milton Avery Recent Exhibitions

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Milton Avery Represented By

Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Wharf Road, London, United Kingdom Victoria Miro London, New York, Venice

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