Placing Avery: Paintings and Prints from the Collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art will be exhibited at the UBS Gallery in New York City from February 5 to May 1, 2009. The exhibit will showcase approximately 30 examples of Avery's distinctively spare, luminous style of painting, juxtaposing his work with 30 additional pieces by his colleagues including Mark Rothko, Marsden Hartley, John Marin and Adolph Gottlieb, as well as works by artists influential to Avery like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse.
The UBS Gallery is located at 1285 Avenue of the Americas (between 51 and 52 streets) in New York City. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 AM – 6 PM. The gallery is on the ground floor of the building. Admission is free.
Placing Avery will trace Milton Avery's pivotal role in the American transition from representational artwork to Abstract Expressionism through his 53-year career, highlighting landscapes, portraits, still lifes and domestic scenes in a variety of media, including oil paintings, watercolors, etchings and lithographs. The exhibition, organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College, State University of New York, will also examine Avery's circle -- Avery surrounded himself with an artistically and politically sophisticated group of friends of all ages, who viewed artwork together, sketched and critiqued one another’s progress. Placing Avery will illustrate these influential artistic relationships, exploring how Avery studied the work of his predecessors, shared his work and advice with his contemporaries, and inspired subsequent generations of artists.
Placing Avery: Paintings and Prints from the Collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art is made possible by UBS.
As an art student, Milton Avery studied the work of the American Impressionists, adapting their techniques and compositional methods. Like the Impressionists, Avery was interested in commemorating events of daily life with spontaneous immediacy, such as in his painting March with Green Hat (1948), an intimate portrait of his daughter. Avery's appreciation of Maurice Prendergast can be seen directly in Four Bathers (1942), which echoes his predecessor’s classical, jewel-toned painting The Bathers (1912), but with modern figures, fluid gestural brushstrokes, and colors that evoke an ominous mood.
Avery became friends with Mark Rothko in 1928, and their longtime artistic relationship allowed the development of influential ideas of reduction and chromatic tension. Through Rothko, Avery met Adolph Gottlieb and Barnett Newman, and this cross-generational alliance led to artistic experimentation. Their mutual inspiration can be seen in the juxtaposition of Avery's Sun over Southern Lake (1951) and Rothko's Old Gold over White (1956), which share a luminous quality and the revolutionary exploration of the power of color and form. Although Avery was at the forefront of modernist seascape and landscape painting, and Rothko a leader of abstraction, their work is nonetheless intrinsically linked.
Avery frequented many progressive museums and galleries in New York that offered alternatives to the American Impressionism, Regionalism and Social Realism prevalent in the early twentieth century. In 1943, Avery joined the gallery of Paul Rosenberg, who represented Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Marsden Hartley, and who hosted weekly salons to study the European masters and critique work. The elegant contours of the work of Picasso, Braque and Matisse offered a compositional challenge to Avery, inspiring him to combine dimensional solidity with emotional impact. Avery’s Cello Player in Blue (1944) is a striking example of how his simplified forms developed over time, rooted in the sinuous outlines of the European masters.
In addition to sharing a dealer, Avery and Marsden Hartley shared a love of the remote seaside (both summering in Gloucester in the early 1930s), an interest in American folk art, and a desire to integrate European abstraction into a distinctively American vernacular. Avery’s Waterfall (1954) reflects the strong lines in Hartley’s Granite by the Sea, Seguin Light, Georgetown (1937-8), as well as the luminous colors, simplified forms and rhythmic composition of folk art. Both artists uniquely interpreted nature in collapsed dimensional space, using ambiguous forms and coarse brushwork. Through their careers, Avery and Hartley shared a reciprocal yet competitive admiration, pushing each other to greater degrees of stripped, flattened abstraction while retaining solid, structural forms and evocative American subject matter.
The prolific Avery expanded his repertoire into the 1960s, producing hundreds of works and experimenting with large-format paintings. While inspired by Abstract Expressionism, Avery never fully abandoned recognizable subject matter, writing in 1951: "I am not seeking pure abstraction; rather the purity and essence of the idea – expressed in its simplest form." In the spare, planar Walker by the Sea (1961), Avery roots the lone figure of a woman in the sand against a divided ocean, one horizon grey and tempestuous, the other a deep, placid blue. The resonant, solitary beauty of Avery’s work transcends formal constraints, revealing our shared existence.
The Neuberger Museum of Art
The Neuberger Museum of Art was founded more than 30 years ago as a cultural and intellectual center for modern and contemporary art. Its core collection of 20th century paintings and sculpture contains primary examples of the movements and individuals who shaped modern art. It is the fundamental mission of the Neuberger Museum of Art to educate the broadest possible audience in, about and through the visual arts. The tenth largest college art museum in the nation with an internationally renowned collection of more than 6,000 works of art in all media, the Museum is named after financier and founding patron Roy R. Neuberger, whose extensive art collection forms the core of the Museum's holdings and who continues to be an active and involved donor. The Museum holds the largest personal collection of Milton Avery’s work, which was collected by Mr. Neuberger, a visionary patron of Avery's throughout his career.
The Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College is located at 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, New York. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM, closed Mondays and major holidays. Group tours are available by appointment on Tuesdays through Fridays, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. For more information, please call
914-251-6100 or visit www.neuberger.org.
The UBS Art Gallery
UBS has a longstanding and ongoing commitment to the support of the arts and culture. UBS sponsors four exhibitions each year in The UBS Art Gallery, located in the lobby of its building at 1285 Avenue of the Americas, New York City. Through its exhibition program, the Gallery offers non-profit arts and cultural organizations a midtown Manhattan exhibition space and the opportunity to introduce their programs to a new audience. The UBS Art Gallery enables many institutions to organize and mount exhibitions that might not otherwise be seen. These exhibitions encourage interest in the arts among the hundreds of employees, clients and members of the general public who pass through the UBS building each day.
UBS is one of the world's leading financial firms, serving a discerning international client base. UBS is a leading global wealth manager, a leading global investment banking and securities firm, and one of the largest global asset managers. In Switzerland, UBS is the market leader in retail and commercial banking.