Some people just understand colour. They know which tones work with which, better still, they know which colour combinations can appear unexpected and exciting. I’ve probably screen-grabbed over 27 paintings by Milton Avery recently for this very reason; obsessed with his child-like approach to form and unapologetic blocks of colour. It’s as if he has forced lime green and lavender into the same room and somehow has them walk out as friends – lovers, even.
Not quite to scale, his paintings sit somewhere between 2D and 3D, pushing and pulling between representational and radical. Above form and colour, there is a sense of pace that is established with paintings titled ‘Sketchers by the Stream‘, ‘Reclining Reader‘, and ‘Greenwich Villagers‘, suggesting that Avery was an active wanderer, an observer, perhaps.
According to artist Mark Rothko, ‘What was Avery’s repertoire?’ “His living room, Central park, his wife Sally, his daughter March, the beaches and mountains where they summered; cows, fish heads, the flight of birds; his friends and whatever world strayed through his studio: a domestic, unheroic cast. But from these there have been fashioned great canvases, that far from the casual and transitory implications of the subjects, have always a gripping lyricism, and often achieve the permanence and monumentality of Egypt.”