Milton Avery was an American painter celebrated for his portraits, still lifes, and landscapes. Working with both oils and watercolors, he used broad swaths of luminous color and stylized forms, to capture the essence of a scene without fixating on details.
Born on March 7, 1885 in Altmar, NY, he grew up in Connecticut and went on to attend art classes while working several jobs in Hartford. Moving to New York in 1925, his wife the artist Sally Michel Avery supported the two of them by working as a commercial illustrator in the city. Over the following years, he befriended other painters of the era, such as Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, and Barnett Newman, developing the increasingly abstract style exemplified by his late work Green Sea (1954).
His paintings remained relatively unknown until 1929, when the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. became the first museum to purchase his work. Later in Avery’s life, he often traveled to the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont during the summer, returning to New York in the winter months. Exhibitions at the Phillips Collection and at the Whitney Museum of American Art further solidified his reputation as a seminal American artist. He died on January 3, 1965 in New York, NY at the age of 79. Today, Avery’s works are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Tate Gallery in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.