Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Image: 30 x 42 inches (76.2 x 106.7 cm)
Gift of Helen Hooker Roelofs in memory of her father, Elon Huntington Hooker, Class of 1896
Milton Avery, born in a small town in upstate New York, attended the Connecticut League of Art Students. The mature style he developed in the 1950s, however, is the result of his self-teaching and experimentation. His sentiment, "why talk when you can paint," adeptly sums up his attitude toward painting. With no definite predecessors or direct followers, Avery did not become associated with any major school of painting. As Clement Greenberg pointed out, "He is one of the very few modernists of note of his generation to have disregarded Cubism." His oil paintings, like his watercolors, have a thin, dry quality that underscores the overall simplicity of their composition. Extreme simplicity, bordering on abstraction, is a hallmark of Avery's works in general and his landscapes in particular. A simple wave is transformed into a form not unlike the eruption of a solar flare. A relatively late work, The White Wave revisits familiar subject matter, but gone now are all details except for the sinuous contour that defines the wave itself. His interest in color and simplified forms has been likened to similar interests in the work of Barnett Newman, Adolph Gottlieb, and Mark Rothko, the latter of whom said, "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." (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," 1998)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.