Milton Avery: American Colourist ★★★★ Royal Academy of Arts | Jul 15 - Oct 16, 2022


This compact exhibition provides a tantalising introduction to the prolific Milton Avery's work. This is the first comprehensive overview to be presented in Europe and comprises 70 paintings, dating from as early as 1910 and extending into the 1960s. The three galleries represent Early Work: Landscape Domestic and The City; Portraits, Colour and Form; and Late Work. They allow the visitor to trace the artist's development from his early paintings influenced by the American Impressionists, through later work that echoes Toulouse-Lautrec and particularly Matisse, to the final output which owes much to Avery's younger friend Mark Rothko. Despite such contexts however, Avery remains very much his own man. He is never a follower of artistic fashion and throughout his life he stands apart from the enthusiasms of the day. He is consistent and singular in his chromatic experimentation and even when his work is most Rothko-like he never loses his commitment to representation. The development from The Artist and his Wife (1928-29) to Two Figures (1960) says it all, defining the artist's preoccupations and presenting his aesthetic journey. This is an American artist who deserves the increased attention that will be brought to his work by this outstanding exhibition.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: Milton Avery, Little Fox River, 1942. © 2021 Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London 2021. Photo © Jim Frank.

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