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Milton Avery: Holdings from the Permanent Collection


Through August 3, 2003, the Neuberger Museum of Art will display the Museum's entire holdings of Milton Avery works in honor of its founding patron, Roy R. Neuberger, who will be 100 years old on July 21. The works by Milton Avery (1885 - 1965), an internationally recognized American artist, includes figurative, landscape and still life subjects that document Avery's artistic development and span the years 1937 - 1961.

Milton Avery brought together simple, spare forms and harmonious colors to build patterns of flat, interlocking shapes. He frequently depicted family, friends and familiar landscapes, simplifying and refining the imagery into strong formal patterns, although subject matter was of less importance to Avery than the creation of mood. (right: Milton Avery, Clover Leaf Park, 1942, oil on canvas, 28 x 36 inches, Collection Neuberger Museum of Art, Gift of Roy R. Neuberger)

At the beginning of his career, when he lived in Connecticut, Avery was influenced by the American Impressionist movement. Upon moving to New York in 1925, he was exposed to a wider variety of contemporary art and his work became more abstract, though always remaining recognizably representational. He was strongly influenced by Matisse, and in turn, his brilliance as a master of composition and color influenced a subsequent generation of painters. Avery's mature style, developed by the mid-1940s, is characterized by a reduction of elements to their essential forms, elimination of detail, and surface patterns of flattened shapes, filled with arbitrary color in the manner of Matisse.

With his play of color and pattern and a positive, joyous response to the world around him, Milton Avery has been called the most angst-free modernist painter. Nevertheless, he was a dedicated practitioner of his art, working constantly through his life and producing a large body of work. (left: Milton Avery, Cello Player in Blue, 1944, oil on canvas, 26 x 26 inches, Collection Neuberger Museum of Art, Gift of Roy R. Neuberger)

Roy R. Neuberger encountered the work of Milton Avery around 1940. Convinced of his significance, Neuberger acquired more than one hundred Avery paintings within a short period of time, making his the largest personal collection of the artist's works. Neuberger rates Milton Avery as one of twentieth-century America's most important artists. In his recently published memoir, "The Passionate Collector," Neuberger indicates that early on, some critics and fellow artists acknowledged Milton Avery as a man of exceptional talent. But the public was slower to recognize his genius. "His reputation has grown steadily. Now, in the early twenty-first century, Avery has become hugely popular with the wide audience his work merits. I am proud that I recognized his talent early and bought many of his finest works," Neuberger says.


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