Avery, Milton, 1885-1965

Alternative names

Hide Profile

Milton Avery (1885-1965) was a painter in New York, N.Y.

Year of birth has always been given as 1893; however, both the federal census report of 1900 and February 18, 1892 election district records for the town of Albion indicate that the actual year of birth was 1885.

From the description of Milton Avery papers, 1926-1982, bulk 1950-1982. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 123373514

Milton Avery (1885-1965) was born in Altmar, New York and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. Around 1905 he began attending the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford where he studied life drawing while also working full-time as a factory worker and file clerk. In 1915 he had his first public exhibition and, in 1918, transferred to the School of Art Society in Hartford. In 1924 he met Sally Michel (1905-2003), a student at the Art Students League in New York, and moved to New York City to be closer to her. They married one year later. Around this time Avery also altered his year of birth to 1893, perhaps due to the age difference between him and Sally. After their marriage Sally worked as an illustrator so that Avery could paint full time.

During the early 1920s, Avery's works were traditional figurative and genre subjects, influenced by American Impressionism. By the mid 1920s, with his move to New York, Avery began to simplify his forms and use broader expanses of flat color. Although his paintings became increasingly abstract, he never fully abandoned representational subject matter, painting figure groups, still lifes, landscapes, and seascapes. By the mid-1940s, Avery's work was characterized by a reduction of elements and elimination of detail, filled with an emphasis on arbitrary color.

Avery exhibited in a group show at The Opportunity Gallery in 1928 which also featured Mark Rothko and the two became close friends. He became friends with many other artists including Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, and Marsden Hartley. Avery's color work was an important influence on many younger artists, particularly Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, Helen Frankenthaler, and other Color Field painters. The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. was the first museum to purchase one of his paintings in 1929 and to give him his first solo museum exhibition in 1944.

In 1949 Milton Avery suffered a major heart attack and began making monotypes during his recovery. He returned to painting despite periods of ill-health, and his reputation grew rapidly over the next ten years, culminating in a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1960. He also exhibited along with his wife Sally Avery and their daughter, March Avery Cavanaugh (born in 1932), both of whom were also painters. Avery died in 1965 and left behind an oeuvre of paintings that numbers in the thousands. His wife Sally managed his estate and the sale of his works to many major museums, and served as a trustee for the Milton Avery Trust until her death in 2003.

From the guide to the Milton Avery papers, 1926-1982 (bulk 1950-1982), (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Putnam, Wallace, 1899-. Oral history interview with Wallace Putnam, 1982 Aug. 13-20. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Kaplan, Joseph, 1900-1980. Joseph Kaplan papers, 1923-1976. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bocour, Leonard, 1910-. Leonard Bocour interview, 1978 June 8 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Valente, Alfredo. Milton Avery [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf American Art Expositions (Firm). American Art Expositions, Inc. records. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Avery, Milton. Avery, Milton Art World Personality Files. Whitney Museum of American Art, Library
creatorOf Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Photography. Records, Exhibition negatives: installations. Milton Avery Retrospective. 1970. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn Vicente, Esteban, 1903-. Esteban Vicente interview, 1968 Aug. 26. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. Institutional file, Exhibitions. Milton Avery in black and white : drawings 1929-59. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
creatorOf Constant, George. George Constant papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Kaufman, Louis, 1905-. Oral history interview with Louis Kaufman, 1985 Feb. 15 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Laurel Gallery (New York, N.Y.). Laurel Gallery records, 1946-1952. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Avery, Sally. Reminiscences of Sally Michael Avery [microform] : oral history, 1979. National Gallery of Art Library
referencedIn Sievan, Maurice. Maurice Sievan papers, 1934-1983. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Kaufman, Louis, 1905-. Louis Kaufman interview, 1985 Feb. 15 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hirshhorn, Joseph H. Oral history interview with Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1976 Dec. 16. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Avery, Milton, 1885-1965. [Milton Avery : International Art & Artists File]. Libraries Australia
creatorOf Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Director's Office Records of Exhibitions, 1980-1999. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, The Clark
creatorOf Milton Avery papers, 1926-1982 (bulk 1950-1982) Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Avery, Sally,. Oral history interview with Sally Michael Avery, 1979. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Avery, Milton. [Milton Avery] : artist file John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library, Ringling Museum Library
referencedIn James E. B. Breslin research archive on Mark Rothko, 1900-1994, 1940-1990 Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Bocour, Leonard, 1910-. Leonard Bocour interview, 1978 June 8. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Miller, Harvey S. Shipley. Some aspects of the work of Milton Avery : typescript, 1972 / Harvey S. Shipley Miller. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn George Constant papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Kufeld, Jack. Jack Kufeld interview, 1981 Oct. 5. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Carewe, Sylvia, 1906-1981. Sylvia Carewe papers, ca. 1930-1972. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Halper, Nathan. Records of Nathan Halper's Galleries, 1952-1979. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Avery, Milton, 1885-1965. Milton Clark Avery : artist file : study photographs and reproductions of works of art with accompanying documentation 1930?-1990 [graphic] [compiled by staff of The Museum of Modern Art, New York]. Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection
referencedIn Avery, Sally. Oral history interview with Sally Avery, 1982 Feb. 19. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Mary Washington College. Annual exhibition of contemporary art. [Correspondence from artists whose paintings appeared in Mary Washington College annual exhibitions of contemporary art] / [various artists]. University of Mary Washington, Simpson Library
creatorOf Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme, 1896-1993. Adelyn Dohme Breeskin papers, 1934-1978. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Laurent, Robert, 1890-1970. Robert Laurent papers, 1869-1973. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Kuh, Katharine. Oral history interview with Katharine Kuh, 1982 Mar. 18-1983 Mar. 24. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Avery, Milton, 1885-1965. Unrealized children's book project [graphic] : original gouaches and related materials / Milton Avery. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn De Kooning, Elaine. Oral history interview with Elaine de Kooning, 1981 Aug. 27. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hirshhorn, Joseph H. Joseph H. Hirshhorn interview, 1976 Dec. 16 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Valente, Alfredo. Alfredo Valente papers, 1941-1978. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Kufeld, Jack, 1907-1990. Oral history interview with Jack Kufeld, 1981 Oct. 5. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Kaufman, Louis, 1905-1994. Louis and Annette Kaufman papers, 1931-2000. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Avery, Sally. Sally Avery interview, 1982 Feb. 19. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Charles Edward and Isabel Patterson Eaton Art Collection papers, 1920s-1990s. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Gottlieb, Esther Dick. Oral history interview with Esther Dick Gottlieb, 1981 Oct. 22. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Phillips, Matt, 1927-. Matt Phillips collection of prints and drawings, 1953-2010. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Sterne, Hedda, 1916-. Hedda Sterne interview, 1981 Dec. 17. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn American Federation of Arts records, 1895-1993 (bulk 1909-1969) Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Bocour, Leonard, 1910-1993. Oral history interview with Leonard Bocour, 1978 June 8. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Neuberger, Roy R. Roy R. Neuberger papers, 1940-1979. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Newman, Arnold, 1918-2006. Arnold Newman photographs of artists, ca. 1940-1960. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Louis Kaufman Collection, 1925-2008 Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Lowenthal, Milton. Milton and Edith Lowenthal papers, 1940-1989. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Breslin, James E. B., 1935-1996. James E. B. Breslin research archive on Mark Rothko, 1900-1994 (bulk 1940-1990). Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Avery, Milton, 1885-1965. Milton Avery artist file. Whitney Museum of American Art, Library
referencedIn Putnam, Wallace, 1899-1989. Wallace Putnam papers, 1914-1983. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf New Britain Museum of American Art. New Britain Museum of American Art records, 1907-1978. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Sterne, Hedda, 1910-. Oral history interview with Hedda Sterne, 1981 Dec. 17. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Halper, Nathan. Nathan Halper correspondence and gallery records, 1952-1979, bulk, 1953-1970. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Avery, Milton, 1893-1965 : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Landgren, Marchal E. Marchal Landgren papers, 1928-1983. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Constant, George. George Constant papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Avery, Milton, 1885-1965. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn Makler Gallery. Makler Gallery records, 1957-1989. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Newman, Arnold, 1918-2006. Arnold Newman photographs of artists, ca. 1940-1960. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn American Federation of Arts. American Federation of Arts records, 1895-1993 (bulk 1909-1969). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Kufeld, Jack. Jack Kufeld papers, 1936-1976. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Gottlieb, Esther Dick. Esther Dick Gottlieb interview, 1981 Oct. 22. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Kaufman, Louis, 1905-1994. Louis Kaufman collection, 1925-2008. Library of Congress
referencedIn Kuh, Katharine. Katharine Kuh interviews, 1982 Mar. 18 - 1983 Mar. 24. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Avery, Milton : Biographical file. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
referencedIn Putnam, Wallace, 1899-. Wallace Putnam interview, 1982 Aug. 13-20. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Avery, Milton, 1885-1965. Milton Avery papers, 1926-1982, bulk 1950-1982. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn De Kooning, Elaine. Elaine de Kooning interview, 1981 Aug. 27. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Avery, Sally,. Oral history interview with Sally Michel Avery, 1967 Nov. 3 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Art Expositions (Firm) corporateBody
associatedWith American Federation of Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith Avery, Sally. person
associatedWith Bocour, Leonard, 1910-1993 person
associatedWith Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme, 1896-1993. person
associatedWith Breslin, James E. B., 1935-1996. person
associatedWith Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Photography. corporateBody
associatedWith Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. corporateBody
associatedWith Carewe, Sylvia, 1906-1981. person
associatedWith Constant, George. person
associatedWith De Kooning, Elaine. person
associatedWith Duthuit, Georges, 1891- person
associatedWith Eilshemius, Louis M. (Louis Michel), 1864-1941. person
associatedWith George Constant person
associatedWith Gottlieb, Esther Dick person
associatedWith Gottlieb, Esther Dick. person
associatedWith Halper, Nathan. person
associatedWith Hartley, Marsden, 1877-1943. person
associatedWith Hays, H. R. (Hoffman Reynolds), 1904-1980. person
associatedWith Hirshhorn, Joseph H. person
associatedWith Kaplan, Joseph, 1900-1980. person
associatedWith Kaufman, Louis, 1905-1994. person
associatedWith Kufeld, Jack, 1907-1990 person
associatedWith Kuh, Katharine person
associatedWith Kuskin, Karla. person
associatedWith Landgren, Marchal E. person
associatedWith Laurel Gallery (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Laurent, Robert, 1890-1970. person
associatedWith Lowenthal, Milton. person
associatedWith Makler Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Miller, Harvey S. Shipley. person
associatedWith Milton Avery, person
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Neuberger, Roy R. person
associatedWith New Britain Museum of American Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Newman, Arnold, 1918-2006. person
associatedWith Phillips, Matt, 1927- person
associatedWith Putnam, Wallace, 1899- person
associatedWith Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970. person
associatedWith Sievan, Maurice. person
associatedWith Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Sterne, Hedda, 1910- person
associatedWith Sterne, Hedda, 1916- person
associatedWith The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Valente, Alfredo. person
associatedWith Vicente, Esteban, 1903- person
associatedWith Whitney Museum of American Art. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
Subject
Painting, Abstract
Art, American
Painters
Painters--New York (State)--New York
Art--American (?)--Reproductions
Occupation
Artists
Function

Person

Birth 1885-03-07

Death 1965-01-03

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6bc41gx

Ark ID: w6bc41gx

SNAC ID: 8582475