Milton Avery (1885-1965) is a towering figure in modern twentieth-century art, with an illustrious and celebrated career that spanned over five decades. He developed a unique visual vocabulary inspired in part by European modernism while wholly embracing the American vernacular. Over the years, his work has inspired generations of artists—abstract and figurative painters alike.
This extraordinary exhibition features over twenty major-scale oil paintings, including a number of Avery’s most acclaimed landscape, seascape, and figurative compositions that he produced late in his career. Complementing these remarkable oil paintings are fifty never-before exhibited works on paper from the 1930s, which demonstrate the artist’s mastery of watercolor and gouache early in his career. The exhibition presents many
well-known works from prominent private and public collections, as well as a number of pieces being shown in New York for the first time. Among the rarely exhibited paintings on view is Hills and Sunset Sky (1964), a luminous masterwork that is the last major painting that Avery completed.
Celebrating fifty years of representing the artist’s estate, Yares Art is proud to present the gallery’s first Milton Avery exhibition at its recently established New York venue. Among the many highlights of the show are celebrated masterworks such as Dunes and Sea II (1960) from the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Other powerful and engaging marine images here, such as Rolling Surf (1958) and Sails in Sunset Sea (1960), are widely regarded as among Avery’s best works.
The seascape motif was a favorite for Avery since early in his career. His beach scenes from the 1930s encompass a subtle social commentary in striking pieces such as Untitled (Yellow Swimsuit) and Untitled (Four on the Sand); featuring crisp line and luminous color, these images depict working-class people enjoying leisure time at the seashore.
Avery never created completely abstract works, but his subtly nuanced landscapes and figurative compositions, especially his late paintings, often approach abstraction. He was a mentor to the Abstract Expressionists, including Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko, and led the way to Color Field painting with the novel tonal play and quietly daring spatial relationships that are important attributes of Avery’s oeuvre.
During his lifetime he was renowned as an “artist’s artist,” as he incorporated the language of abstraction into a singular exploration of the figure, landscape, and still life. His work remains fresh, vibrant, and more relevant than ever for contemporary art today.