Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art  
Home Donate Contact Us


  SAMA Collections



collections > permanent collections > drawings > milton avery
Milton Avery
(American, 1885-1965)
Nude in Orange Scarf, 1956
Colored crayon and ink on paper, 16” x 13 ¼”
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James W. Titelman (79.005)

Sometimes called “the American Matisse,” Milton Avery is an important figure in the evolution of Abstract Expressionism.  Although his paintings and drawings never became totally abstract, Avery employed figurative imagery primarily as a vehicle to explore relationships of form and color.  Nude in Orange Scarf is typical of the artist’s work in its overall flatness and use of large interconnected planes.  A variety of markmaking is also evident, from long strokes of colored crayon to staccato points of ink.  Yet details of the figure itself are indicated almost notationally, giving the viewer a minimal frame of reference as to the actual subject of the drawing. 

Born in Upstate New York in 1885, Avery commenced his art studies with spare-time coursework at the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford.  Attracted to the work of the American Impressionists, Avery made his way to New York City, where he encountered European modernism and participated in the Independents Exhibition of 1927.  Discovered and assiduously promoted by influential collectors of modern art such as Roy Neuberger and Duncan Phillips, Avery became a notable figure in avant-garde American painting of the 1930s and 1940s.  The artist’s failure to turn completely to abstraction caused him to suffer a critical decline during the 1950s, but he was resuscitated toward the end of the decade.  In 1960, he was given a retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.