Blum & Poe is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of works spanning forty years by New York-based artist March Avery. This show follows the recent announcement of the artist’s addition to the gallery’s roster and marks her second presentation following a debut at Blum & Poe New York in 2019.
The exhibition brings together Avery’s oil paintings, sketches, and watercolors. These interrelated facets of her practice exemplify the artist’s ability to capture the poetry of daily life with remarkable emotion and immediacy. To achieve this, Avery decomposes a moment into its essential elements—shape, space, and color come together in unorthodox ways to form unique and evocative compositions that push the boundaries of the paper and the canvas. A true master of color, Avery uses a wide range of yellow, blue, and green hues in a non-associative way and employs negative space to push her works towards abstraction. She favors flat compositions over ideas of depth and perspective, embracing simple forms. Neither fully abstract nor precisely figurative, these works are not easily categorized within the denominations of art history. Though one can trace the characteristics organically shared with her painter father Milton Avery, an attentive eye will quickly distinguish her personal style achieved by her own palette and graphic sensibility.
Her paintings focus on domestic scenes, portraits of friends and family, still lifes, and landscapes all dear to the artist. They visualize the passage of time and encapsulate the full arc of a life, as indicated in the change of seasons in a recurring landscape, or a subject appearing in a family portrait in one work as a newborn, and later as an adult. The striking 1972 oil on canvas work, Father + Son, depicts a mustached man dressed in shades of green holding his son in his arms. The color of his blue skin bleeds into the infant’s clothes and baby blue eyes—blurring the line between their singularities. As they face towards the viewer, the cat on the father’s lap turns its back in a feline manner of protest. Cat naps (1971), another oil on canvas work, further explores the casual comforts and tensions that family dynamics can simultaneously embody. A man sprawled on his back on a sofa carries a lilac glass on his belly. He rests his legs on the lap of a woman sitting at the edge of the sofa nearby, whose ghostly facial expression is revealed only with a closer look. The floral protagonists of a picture from 1983, Sunflower Bouquet, are two melancholy sunflowers that face away from each other within a pale blue vase; a quiet scene punctuated by delicate bowls of fruit in crimson and tangerine in the foreground. Avery is also known for her landscapes, where she foregoes grand Romanticism and favors a distilled version of nature. Often rendered through a window or from a back porch, these landscapes juxtapose wilderness and intimate subjectivity, recalling Mary Oliver's poetry.
Avery works with an ambitious discipline, spending six days a week at her studio in Greenwich Village. She paints watercolors from June through October every year and switches back to oil on canvas for the fall and winter months. Ten watercolors presented in the exhibition echo her thematic interests through figures casually reading newspapers or having breakfast in their robes, while her landscapes and still lifes offer views of simple domestic settings—an outdoor pool or a vase filled with a fall bouquet. Also on view, Avery’s sketchbooks share further perspective on her paintings and watercolors—featuring simple lines or more elaborate shadings, these notebooks reflect the artist’s diaristic approach to her practice in which the dividing line between life and art is always blurred.
March Avery (b. New York, NY, 1932) lives and works in New York. Her work is represented in public collections including the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfalk, VA; Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME; Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages, Stony Brook, NY; Newark Museum, Newark, NJ; New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, Woodstock, NY; among others.