Milton Avery: The Mexico Years

The American painter Milton Avery (1885-1965), deliberate and disciplined in his approach to painting yet intensely imaginative, experienced hardship throughout the early years of his life. While working on a Connecticut assembly line as the sole support for his widowed mother and nine family members, he became interested in art and began taking formal drawing courses. In the 1920s, he moved to New York with his wife Sally, where he was given the freedom to develop his Abstract Expressionist approach to painting: “Objects in the subject matter cannot be painted representatively, but they must take their place in the whole design.” He traveled to Mexico in 1946 to continue painting landscapes and seascapes. His wife Sally, who accompanied him on the trip, described his craft in depicting village streets and mountainous grasslands: “He took these ordinary subjects and infused them with a great deal of poetry.” Writer and director Sam Peckinpah, famous for Westerns such as The Wild Bunch, purchased Pot Vendor after discovering Avery’s work for filming in Mexico.

Paul DesMarais, Contributing Writer

 Lot Information:

Lot 310
Milton Avery  
Pot Vendor  
Watercolor on paper  
Signed and dated lower left; The Waddington Galleries, London, label verso
Image 22″ x 30.5″; Frame 28″ x 37″  
Provenance: Sam Peckinpah, thence by descent
Estimate $30,000 – 50,000  
June 26, 2011 Modern Art & Design Auction 


“Oral History Interview with Sally Avery.” 19 Feb. 1982. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art. Web. 13 May 2011.

McKenzie, Janet. “Milton Avery: Late Work, Landscapes and Seascapes.” Studio International, 2001. Web. 13 May 2011.


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