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Milton Avery Biography


Milton Avery was an American painter, who was born in New York in 1885. As a painter, he is the link between the world of traditional American painting of the early 20th century and that of abstract expressionism from the 1940s onwards.

Avery was self-taught and did not receive any special training, except for a painting masterclass in 1913 at the Connecticut League of Art in Hartford. In 1925, he married Sally Michel, another painter, whose image can be found in the many portraits made by her husband.

After his initial, Fauve period that enabled him to play with rich colours, he decreased his palette and simplified his compositions that gradually became lager. His subjects remain simple and his style is almost intimist. He painted members of his family, his friends, his studio, Central Park, his favourite landscapes and places where he spent his summers as well as cows, fish and flying birds. His forms are very simplified, evoking the style of Matisse. His contours are somewhat fluid, creating a kind of osmosis between them. The art of Milton Avery thus joins, little by little, the Expressionist abstraction of Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb, who were his contemporaries. Together, they participated in long weekly conversations that facilitated the birth of post-war American abstract painting, and more specifically, the New York School.

A major tribute to his work was presented in 1952 at the Baltimore Museum, then at the Ford Foundation, and at the Whitney Museum in 1960, among others.

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