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 March Avery  (1932 - )

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Lived/Active: New York / France      Known for: modernist figure, landscape and marine scene painting

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Ad Code: 3
March Avery
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is an exhibition review by Karen Schafer, Gazette.Net, Maryland. September 9, 2008.

Painter March Avery may be the daughter of one of America's most respected artists, the late Milton Avery, but he never gave her a single art lesson.  She learned early it was best to stay clear of her dad's famous but fussy artist friends. When tough nuts like Mark Rothko, Adolf Gottlieb, Barnett Newman and Marsden Hartley came a calling at Avery's Greenwich Village apartment, she kept mostly out of sight.

Asked if she received a morsel of advice or encouragement from some of the 20th century's most important contemporary artists, Avery bursts out laughing.

"Artists don't like to talk about anything but their own art - and not just those artists either," she insists. "All artists are egotistical."

Even her father resisted offering critiques, let alone any sort of endorsement. In fact, Milton Avery is notorious for saying "Why talk when I can paint." Whenever Avery showed her dad a painting, his only response was "Paint another one."

Such tough-love parenting must have worked since the New York City-based artist has been painting for half a century. Her work will be on view at Marin Price Art Gallery in Chevy Chase from Saturday through Thursday, Oct. 9, 2008.

March Avery avoided the influences, like world events and abstract expressionism embraced by many artists in the 1930s and '40s. Instead, she always adhered to her father's methods: reducing elements to their essential forms, eliminating many details, and instead developed flattened shapes and strong colors.

Even today, Avery is most influenced by her father, who died at age 85 in 1965. Without much parental supervision, perhaps she gravitated to his style by osmosis.

Both March Avery and her artist son, Sean Cavanaugh, confess to being insecure about comparisons. Dogged by such a distinguished providence, she says, "We look at his paintings and moan. It is so rough."

Perhaps this is why Avery believes her father did want her to become an artist. The artistic life is difficult and demands sacrifices, especially since Milton Avery's success came late in his life.

The fledging painter never took a single studio or art history class.  Instead, Avery hoped she might discover the definition of "truth and beauty" by studying philosophy at Barnard College.
Youthful idealism didn't stop the headstrong artist from returning to her roots.

"I knew no one but artists, so I knew that is all I would ever be," she says.

Clearly dad ruled, and her mom, an illustrator, supported the family for years.

The artist remembers her mother "subjugated" by her dad and didn't really come into her own artistically until he died.

Taking care of your man may be in the genes. After graduating from college, Avery married her college boyfriend and supported him for many years until he earned a doctorate in English. Once he had a diploma and a steady job, she quit her city job forever; to this day, she is trying to make up for lost time.

Working alone, listening to classical music, nearly every day in her Bleecker Street studio, she observes, "I can't just start painting without an actual inspiration." Today she looks at an image of a turkey and wonders if it might be a part of her next painting. Her father may not have wanted to admit it, but he probably would be proud.

Marin-Price Galleries

Biography from Marin-Price Galleries:
March Avery was trained by her famous father, Milton Avery, and surrounded by other artists who were her father's friends, such as Mark Rothko, Adolf Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, Byron Browne, and Marsden Hartley, she developed her talent.

It is very obvious that she is in the Milton Avery stream and that he has influenced her talent and technique. For years she painted side by side with her father. She is, however, her own unique person with her own style. Her work has a matter-of-fact directness that is her own characteristic. March Avery brings gentle humor and quiet eloquence to interpretations of the most ordinary events.

March Avery has had many exhibits, and her work is represented in several museums.

Exhibits & Collections (selected)

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY

Allentown Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Allentown, PA

New Britain Museum, New Britain Museum, CT

The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA

Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA

Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Woodstock Art Association

Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Biography from Kendall Art Gallery:
A painter in her own right, March Avery does work which inevitably invites comparison to her famous father, American artist Milton Avery, who was her most influential teacher along with her mother, artist and illustrator Sally Michel.  Growing up she was surrounded by artists who were friends of her father, such as Mark Rothko, Adolf Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, and Marsden Hartley. 

She has cultivated a style of her own that celebrates brilliant color and abstract forms. Her everyday subject matter is transformed into a lively observation on modern life. She often paints on location in France and in her Manhattan studio.

Avery graduated from Barnard College in New York and exhibits regularly in New York and elsewhere nationally. She is represented in many collections, and recently had a solo show at Fairfield University, CT.

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