Milton Clark Avery was born at in Altmar, New York in 1893. At the age of 16, he left school to work in various factories to help support his family. With an interest in art, he took classes at the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford. In 1917, he began taking his art more seriously and worked at night to leave his days free to paint. His work during this time was influenced by American Impressionist artists, such as Ernest Lawson. He also studied at the School of the Art Society of Hartford and would later become a member of the Connecticut Academy of the Fine Arts.
In 1925, Milton Clark Avery moved to New York City and became immersed in the Manhattan art scene. He became close friends with artists Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Adolph Gottlieb. In the late 1920s and 1930s, Avery continued his training by taking classes at the Art Students League of New York. In New York City, he was exposed to the work of Matisse and Picasso and, as a result, his work took on a more vivid color pallet and incorporated more abstracted, flattened shapes. His work was included in the Society of Independent Artists exhibition in 1927. A year later his work was included in a group show at the Opportunity Gallery in New York. Roy Neuberger, an American financier who contributed money to raise public awareness of modern art, saw Avery’s work and bought over 100 of his paintings to lend or donate to museums all over the world. This certainly helped catapult Milton Avery’s career as a highly respected and successful painter.
The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. was the first museum to purchase one of Avery’s paintings in 1929. They gave him his first solo museum exhibition in 1944. In the 1950s and 1960s, Milton Clark Avery continued to exhibit widely and had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe. He also spent several summers at various art colonies. His work was honored with a retrospective exhibition at The Baltimore Museum of Art in 1952 and at The Whitney Museum of American Art in 1960. Unfortunately, Avery suffered his first heart attack in 1960, which left him incapacitated and he passed away in 1965.
Milton Avery’s style was close to abstraction, but always included representational elements. Milton Clark Avery chose to paint classical subject matter of portraits, still lifes and coastal landscapes. Today, he is thought to be one of the most influential artists of the 20th-century.