Selected Works from the Estate of the Artist
October 6 - November 3, 2012
Avery’s genius lay in his ability to portray moods that stimulate each viewer’s consciousness on an almost archetypal level. As the depiction of iconic relationships came to dominate his work, his paintings acquired greater poignancy. In relinquishing the transitory and the specific, Avery bestowed on his subjects a suspended calm. Depictions of group activities - family and friends playing games, making music, relaxing together at the beach - were replaced by a quality of separateness. Figure portrayals were now generally of single figures or of couples isolated in otherwise deserted landscapes. This mood of emptiness and quietude extended to his landscapes and seascapes as well; even in these, pictorial incidents seldom intrude upon the limitless expanse of empty space.
Avery`s portraits and figure compositions were typical of the work that dominated the New York art scene in the twenties: his close - cropped individual portraits isolated against flat backgrounds related to the academic paintings of artists at the Art Students League, while his figure groups were similar to the urban genre paintings of artists later identified with the American Scene.
-Barbara Haskell, Milton Avery, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1982
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