Milton Avery: The Late Portraits

Milton Avery: The Late Portraits


Milton Avery (1885–1965) is celebrated for his luminous paintings of landscapes, figures and still lives, which balance the distillation of form with free, vigorous brushwork and lyrical colour. Milton and the artist Sally Michel Avery, his collaborator and wife, would often spend summers in Upstate New York, where they would amass drawings and sketches. In the winter, they would use them as a basis for paintings they created in their studio, which was adjacent to Central Park. This special Collectors Edition of “Milton Avery: The Late Portraits” accompanies an exhibition at Victoria Miro Venice of portraits drawn from the last four years of Milton Avery’s life. Characterised by the economy of touch and luminescence of colour, the works see the artist apply a lifetime of experience to cherished subjects and motifs.

Gautier Deblonde’s photographs of the artist’s apartment and studio overlooking Central Park contained a wealth of inspiration and details, such as handwritten notes from the artist. For the design of the soft-back cover, we used the time and place of creation of Avery’s paintings as a reference. 1960s New York was a cultural whirlwind. We were inspired by vernacular design, music posters and records, and especially Herb Lubalin’s Fact and Eros magazines. Colour was incredibly important for Avery, and John Coltrane’s record covers provided a great source of vibrant hues.

We chose a highly textured, earthy colour board for the standard edition slipcase, printing an artist’s self-portrait on cloth for the limited edition. In response to Avery’s work process, we placed a selection of his sketches at the very front of the book. The drawings are printed as a separate portfolio on paper, emulating his original sketchbooks. This booklet is sewn and attached to the Swiss-bound section of plates with fold-outs. The book block is held by endpapers pre-dyed in rich colours borrowed from the artist’s work.

Published by Victoria Miro
Contributor: Waqas Wajahat