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Milton Avery - American Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Milton Avery (1885 - 1965)

Milton Avery spent most of his career working in New York, executing his paintings in the innovative style of Matisse. He was the sole exponent of this style until the next generation of artists such as Rothko and Gottlieb emerged on the scene in the 1940’s. Although never converting to abstraction, his later work boarders on the non-representational realm.

The son of a tanner, Avery began working at a local factory at the age of 16, and supported himself for decades with a succession of blue-collar jobs. His interest in art led him to attend classes at the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford, and over a period of years he painted in obscurity while receiving a conservative art education.In 1917 he began working night jobs in order to paint in the daytime.

Avery's work is seminal to American abstract painting—while his work is clearly representational, it focuses on color relations and is not concerned with creating the illusion of depth as most conventional Western painting since the Renaissance has. Avery was often thought of as an American Matisse, especially because of his colorful and innovative landscape paintings. His poetic, bold and creative use of drawing and color set him apart from more conventional painting of his era. Early in his career his work was considered too radical for being too abstract; when Abstract Expressionism became dominant his work was overlooked, as being too representational.

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