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Milton Avery (American 1885-1965)

Milton Avery's roots lie in the conjunction of American regionalism and European and American impressionism. While Avery began as a relatively traditional painter, his style quickly ran counter to the social realism of the time. He combined elements of American impressionism with the simplified shapes of Matisse to forge a unique style that became increasingly abstract later in his career. Yet Avery cannot be judged by the later abstract masterpieces alone. His tendency to resort to multiple stylistic approaches is illustrated in his later work (see Barbara Haskell's comments on Sea Moon and Stars, 1960, vs. Sand Sea and Sky, 1960, in Portfolio, Sept/Oct 1982)

As early as 1905, Milton began attending the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford, where he remained an occasional life drawing student through 1919. After 1911, he listed his occupation as artist according to Hobbs' biography of Milton Avery. In 1915, he had his first public exhibition at the Annex Gallery of the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford; Hobbs indicates the current location of the painting exhibited there is unknown. During 1918 he transferred to the School of the Art Society in Hartford, CT. It was at this point that he began nearly annual visits to Gloucester. In 1926, he married Sally Michael; in 1928, Bernard Karfoil exhibited two Avery paintings in The Opportunity Gallery group show that also featured Mark Rothko (another of the important color field painters). In 1929, Duncan Phillips purchased the first of many Avery paintings to enter museum collections, Winter Riders for the Phillips Memorial Gallery in Washington. After this date, Avery had a widening circle of museum and gallery exhibitions and an increasing number of friendships with artists such as Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb and, later, Barnet Newman. Milton also became close friends with another unique American modernist, Marsden Hartley. Their mutual friendship lasted until Marsden's death in 1965. Milton Avery had profound impact on the other painters he befriended, on American color field painting and on the evolution of modernism in the last half of the 20th century.

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