Milton Avery

“I would like to say a few words about the greatness of Milton Avery.

This conviction of greatness, the feeling that one was in the presence of great events, was immediate on encountering his work. It was true for many of us who were younger, questioning, and looking for an anchor. This conviction has never faltered. It has persisted, and has been reinforced through the passing decades and the passing fashions.

Avery is first a great poet. His is the poetry of sheer loveliness, of sheer beauty. Thanks to him this kind of poetry has been able to survive in our time.

This -alone- took great courage in a generation which felt that it could be heard only thru clamor, force and a show of power. But Avery had that inner power in which gentleness and silence proved more audible and poignant.

From the beginning there was nothing tentative about Avery. He always had that naturalness, that exactness and that inevitable completeness which can be achieved only by those gifted with magical means, by those born to sing.”
— Mark Rothko tribute to Milton Avery, 1965 (shortened version; transcribed by Artist & Studio, original at Archives of American Art) (

Milton Avery is a sensitive colorist and designer of two-dimensional patterns in the tradition of Matisse, particularly, though infrequently reminding of Braque and Picasso without the latter's intensity. It is doubtful, however, whether Avery, in terms of content, is saying enough with his color beyond revealing the sophistication of his tastes in dealing with beauty on an abstract basis.

While there is a certain mood in much of the work that might be described as withdrawal, loneliness or alienation, the artist seems not to have been able to summon the creative and aesthetic force or concentration necessary to make of this wistful mood a profound...
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First Collected by

Laura Indick


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