Milton Avery (1885-1965)
Andy Williams: An American Legend
Milton Avery (1885-1965)

Pale Flower, Pale Flower

Milton Avery (1885-1965)
Pale Flower, Pale Flower
signed and dated 'Milton Avery 1951' (lower left)
oil on canvas
30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm.)
The artist.
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Brandt.
Private collection.
[With]Donald Morris Gallery, Inc., New York.
Acquired by present owner from the above, 2001.
Smithsonian Institution, National Collection of Fine Arts, Milton Avery, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C., 1969, n.p., no. 57, illustrated (as Pale Flower).
R. Hobbs, Milton Avery: The Late Paintings, New York, 2001, p. 68, illustrated.
Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, National Collection of Fine Arts, and elsewhere, Milton Avery, December 12, 1969-January 25, 1970, no. 57 (as Pale Flower).


The influence of primitive art's naïve aesthetic can be seen in the work of many American Modern artists, including that of Milton Avery. Painted in 1951, Pale Flower, Pale Flower has the distinctive character of simplified forms and blocks of color that are associated with the artist's most notable works. Unlike his more vibrant compositions of the 1940s, Avery painted Pale Flower, Pale Flower in muted greys, blues, creams and whites, which are reminiscent of the palette of American folk artist Ammi Phillips. He balances the cool palette with striking bright touches of green and yellow. Furthermore, the flattened space and two-dimensional forms recall the primitive compositions of Phillips' work and other American Folk artists.

Avery creates a tension and balance through his selection and use of color that is innovative and distinguishes him as a critical force in 20th-century American art. As Bonnie Lee Grad remarks, "Avery's simplified canvas, with its freshness, child-like innocence, and lightness of touch, enhances the timeless quality of his art. For, like his landscape, his artistic means give us the sense of an eternal spring. His art is distinctively original, yet the conventions he played with are familiar and universal. We relate his work to the art of the child, and to oriental, primitive, and modern art. Its very simplicity, the reduction of the style, its purity and effortlessness, render it, in the end, monumental." (Milton Avery, Royal Oak, Michigan, 1981, pp. 17-18)


Milton, Sally, and March Avery, Woodstock, New York, Summer 1951