Bird & Sun, 1955
Oil and watercolor on artist board
8 3/4 x 5 inches
Signed and dated lower right
While the majority of American painters aligned with the American Scene movement during the 1930s, Milton Avery’s style defied classification. His version of modernism was a blending of realism and abstraction, using color and simplified forms to create a unified whole. In 1944, after nearly two decades of painting, Avery had his first solo museum exhibition at the Phillips Memorial Gallery. The critical recognition that Avery earned during the 1940s cemented his confidence as he reached his mature style.
By the 1950s, Avery eliminated extraneous detail from his paintings, focusing solely on the harmony of the canvas. At times, his work from this period reflects his interest in folk art, specifically in his paintings of animals and birds that evoke wooden decoys, weathervanes, and other forms in the tradition of American folk art. The present work, Bird and Sun, exemplifies this pared down style, depicting an abstracted bird soaring across a white sky with outstretched wings. The whimsical bird is composed of quick brushstrokes of black paint, with a similar technical treatment for the depiction of the sun and sky.