—The highly anticipated reprint of the artist's monograph that is still is considered the most comprehensive presentation of Avery's work —Included are many unfamiliar pieces, in oversize color plates that range in date from the early 1920s to 1963 —A detailed chronology of the artist's life is included and rounding out the volume are essays that explore Avery's career in detail, from the importance of Avery's wife Sally Michel, to the interaction-personal, artistic, and political-between him and his Abstract Expressionist colleagues Milton Avery chronicles the work of an artist who, although he did not become a serious, full-time painter until after he moved to New York at the age of 40, managed to carve out a unique position for himself in the art world over the next thirty-five years. A friend and colleague of the Abstract Expressionists who nevertheless maintained his commitment to representation, Avery was enormously important to several succeeding generations of artists and produced some of the most resonant and beloved images in American art history. Avery's work reflects the concerns he shared with the pioneer French modernists including Matisse, Dufy, and Picasso: saturated color in distinctly new combinations and an interest in retaining the two-dimensional character of the canvas. The combination allowed him to create a distinctly American brand of modernism.
I always regarded him as a brilliant colorist and draftsman, a solitary figure working against the stream.
This 1990 reprint of the original 1982 Whitney Museum of American Art retrospective on Avery (1885–1965) both visually and textually introduces its audience to Avery's art and life. It includes a detailed account of his career, the importance of his relationship with his wife, Sally Michel, and his dealings with his abstract expressionist friends such as Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, and others. The catalog begins with an insightful introduction by top art critic Hilton Kramer and includes a carefully considered chronology, bibliography, exhibition history, and index.VERDICT This is just as exquisite to behold as it is to read. From its smart 12" × 12" square format and 120 high-quality color plates, to its well-researched content, this an essential read for art scholars and art lovers.—Jennifer H. Pollock, Coll. of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning Lib., Univ. of Cincinnati. Jennifer H. Pollock, "Classic Returns," Booksmack! 10/7/10
- Publisher's Weekly
Milton Avery 1885-1965 has often been called ``the American Matisse,'' but that tag seems to miss his essential qualities. Hobbs Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years has a better handle on Avery's quietly marvelous paintings. The taciturn, wry, unpretentious Connecticut Yankee, who worshiped Braque and Dufy as well as Matisse, ``humanized European modernism,'' imaged the world as an abstraction ``populated by people who are caricatures of their former selves.'' In so doing, we are told, Avery invented ``a new type of folk art.'' While that rubric does not altogether fit many of his pictures, this gorgeously illustrated monograph marries superb color plates to a penetrating biographical-critical essay. Hobbs tracks Avery as he created radiant harmonies, shimmering seascapes, calm scenes in which the viewer merges with nature--a metaphysical art about how art mediates and counterfeits reality. Dec.
Robert Hobbs is an art historian who has taught at Yale and Cornell Universities. He is also the author of monographs on Robert Smithson and Edward Hopper. Hilton Kramer is a former critic of The New York Observer and former chief art critic of The New York Times.