Fish

Milton Avery

Milton Avery (03/07/1895-01/03/1965) was born in Sand Bank (now Altmar), CT. As a teenager Milton Clark Avery began making art and painted almost daily until two years before his death in 1965.  He left school at the age of sixteen to work at the Hartford Machine and Screw Company and the Underwood Manufacturing Company in Connecticut assembling machine parts to support his family. Sometime after his father died in 1905, Avery began taking art classes at the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford and studied there on a part-time basis until 1918.  Between 1917 and 1925, he was employed as a file clerk for the Travelers Insurance Company and as a construction worker.  He continued his studies in art at the School of the Art Society of Hartford and eventually became a member of the Connecticut Academy of the Fine Arts.  Soon after meeting Sally Michel on a summer trip to Gloucester, MA, Avery followed her to New York City and the couple married in 1926. The Avery’s quickly became part of the lively and exciting art scene in Manhattan.  Milton enrolled in classes at the Art Students League.  He first exhibited at the Wadsworth Athenaeum’s Fifth Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture in 1915, but soon after his arrival in New York he began showing regularly.  His work was included in the Society of Independent Artists exhibition in 1927 and the following year fellow artist Bernard Karifol selected two of his paintings for a group show at the Opportunity Gallery in New York, which included works by Mark Rothko, with whom Avery became especially close and who introduced him to Barnett Newman and Adolph Gottlieb. He also befriended Marsden Hartley. Beginning in 1932, the Avery’s began summering in Gloucester with Rothko, Gottlieb, and Newman, and in the same year, his only child, daughter March, was born. In the late 1940s, Avery suffered his first major heart attack, an illness from which he never completely recovered. The period from 1950 until 1963 was a time of transitions and change for Avery.  In 1951, he joined the newly established Grace Borgenicht Gallery in New York.  The following year, he traveled to Europe for the first time and visited London, Paris, and the French Rivera. He spent the summer months during the 1950s at various art colonies including The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH, the Yaddo Art Colony near Saratoga Springs, New York, and Provincetown, MA. He continued to paint, despite failing health, but suffered a second heart attack in 1960, which truly incapacitated him.  He was honored with two retrospective exhibitions during this time, one at The Baltimore Museum of Art in 1952 and another at The Whitney Museum of American Art in 1960.  In 1963, Milton Avery painted his last work and died two years later in New York City.

Related works: