New art exhibit at the Bruce Museum is a family affair
GREENWICH — A prominent artist with roots in Connecticut, and who is one of the leading practitioners of modern abstraction, will be the subject of a major exhibition at the Bruce Museum this month.
The show on Milton Avery will also feature a close look at the artist’s family life, and the artistic endeavors of his wife and daughter, both accomplished painters in their own right. The exhibit will focus on their travels around New England on summer holdiays.
“Summer with the Averys: Milton | Sally | March” will open Saturday, May 11, and the curator of the show, Kenneth Silver, said it is a departure from a usual exhbit as it looks at three family members.
“I was intrigued by the idea of trying to figure out, ‘Well, how do you present a family?’ The challenge of this exhibition is that it spans almost a century of time and it follows three people all over the American map and even to a few places outside our borders. It was exciting to see how we could weave these stories together,” said Silver, an art history professor at New York University, in a statement.
The show features the work of Milton Avery, Sally Avery, and their daughter, March, who consulted on the exhibit. “Once I recognized that there was not just one woman in this story, but two, the approach seemed natural. After we went to visit with March, and saw more of Sally’s works in the flesh, I soon realized that they were both gifted artists, and that it would be very exciting to have all three Averys represented. And, certainly, I think people are very interested nowadays to see the works of artists, particularly women, who have been neglected by the history of art,” Silver said.
The exhibit will showcase paintings done by the three family members as they traveled to Vermont and the New England seashore, as well as their rarely seen travel sketchbooks. It will be a bit of a family history, Silver said.
“Because so many people associate summer vacation time with family photos, I think those photographs and the sketchbooks are going to be interesting and appropriate additions to the show,” the art history professor said.
Avery studied at the Connecticut League of Art Students in Harford. His family came to Connecticut in 1898 when he was a boy. Avery lived in and around Hartford until 1925, when he moved to New York City. He died in 1965.
The show includes many notable works by Avery. One is called “Sea Gazers,” an oil painting that is on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art. “It was painted in 1956, in Gloucester, where the Averys met in the ’20s and went back numerous times over the years,” Silver said.
Another is “Swimmers and Sunbathers,” from 1945, another oil painting on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In this work, Milton “distilled summer scenes of his wife and daughter sitting by the water into a grand synthesis of everything he’s thought about the subject,” Silver said.
The exhibit was organized with the assistance of Stephanie Guyet, an art scholar at the Bruce Museum. The show will run through Sept. 1. For more information on the exhibit, visit BruceMuseum.org.