Press Releases

Milton Avery: Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art Exhibits Works of 20th Century Master


Remaining faithful to his own artistic vision, and defying the popular art movements of his day, Milton Avery forged his own aesthetic path through modernity. Milton Avery: Paintings from the Collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art, will be on exhibit at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art January 28th through May 30th, 2004. This exceptional exhibition highlights 29 works of art, rarely exhibited in the region, documenting Avery's artistic development from 1929 to 1961.

Image available at 04.htmlAbout Avery and his work: In recent years, appreciation of Avery's work has experienced a renaissance and his paintings have taken their rightfully prominent place in the history of modern American Art. An unassuming man who shied away from publicity, Avery was not allied with the avant-garde, regionalist, or social realist movement of the 1930s, and even less a part of the gesture abstractionists of the 1940s and 1950s. Considered too radical for the critics, Avery remained out of favor for years, and lived modestly for most of his life.

Milton Avery: Paintings from the Collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art embodies Avery's classic motifs- intimate groupings of friends, portraits, still lifes, seascapes, and landscapes-with his characteristic flattened, color harmonies and respect for his chosen subjects. While Avery's interest in representing everyday life in his work did not change with time, he did increasingly experiment in saturated color and simplified forms beginning in the 1930s.

In the 1940s, the prolific Avery replaced his brushy paint application and graphic detailing with more daring areas of flattened color. His intense concentration on color and ever more simplified form became evident, as shape and color now shared equal importance in his works.

In the late 1940's and into the 1950's Avery began concentrating on larger fields of flat color and capturing relationships between more generalized elements in his compositions. Even as Abstract Expressionism dominated the post-war art world, Avery continued his explorations in color harmonies, shapes and everyday experiences. Avery has often been called the American Matisse for his use of vibrant colors and fluid outlines simple in his later work.

Around 1957 Avery's work shifted again, this time working on a larger scale resulting in a greater impact of composition and color. This style gained him extraordinary critical acclaim and a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1960.

In 1962, Avery suffered a second heart attack, and his health continued to deteriorate steadily until his death in 1965. Throughout his life, Avery demonstrated perseverance as a solitary artist pushing representation to the border of abstraction with a lyrical elegance. During his career, he has been credited with influencing other notable painters including Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. Rothko, at Avery's memorial, gave the following tribute:

There have been several others in our generation who have celebrated the world around them, but none with that inevitability where the poetry penetrated every pore of the canvas to the very last touch of the brush. For Avery was a great poet-inventor who had invented sonorities never seen or heard before. From these we have learned much and will learn more for a long time to come.

This exhibition is part of the SDMA's continuing Hudson Valley Masters Series, which highlights work created by artists who have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions. Milton Avery summered in Woodstock, New York and was a member of the Woodstock Art Association.

About the Neuberger Museum collection: Roy R. Neuberger, one of this country's most respected collectors and patrons of American art was attracted to Avery's nuances of color as well as the simplified forms of his work. Convinced of Avery's significance, Neuberger acquired over one hundred of the artist's paintings within a short period of time, making his the largest private collection of Avery's work. In 1974, the gift of a considerable portion of Roy R. Neuberger's collection created the Neuberger Museum of Art of the State University of New York at Purchase.

Opening Reception: A reception for Milton Avery: Paintings from the Collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art will take place at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art on Sunday, February 8th from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. It is free and open to all. A fully illustrated catalogue, featuring an essay by Barbara Haskell, accompanies the exhibition and will be available for purchase at the museum.

Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art State University of New York at New Paltz 75 S. Manheim Blvd. New Paltz, New York

Museum Hours: Wednesday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Sunday 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, university intersessions and national holidays. Museum Information: 845-257-3844 or on the Web at

About the Museum: The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is dedicated to collecting, researching, interpreting, and exhibiting works of art from diverse cultures. The permanent collection spans a period of almost 4,000 years. Areas of specialization include 20th century paintings and works on paper, Asian and Pre-Columbian art and artifacts, metals and photographs. The Museum has a special commitment to collecting and exhibiting important works of art created by artists who have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions. The Museum is a major cultural resource in the Hudson Valley serving a broad- based constituency from both on and beyond the New Paltz campus.

The web address for images to accompany this release is


If you are a person with a disability who will require special accommodations please contact Amy Pickering at 845.257.3844
no later than one week before the event.