Fisherman and Wife, 1941
Watercolor and gouache on paper
16 x 22 inches
Signed lower right, titled and dates on verso
Born in Sand Bank, New York, Avery took classes at the Connecticut League of Art Students and the School of the Art Society in Hartford before moving to New York in 1926. He studied at the Art Students League in Manhattan and moved in the circles of such progressive artists as Marsden Hartley, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko.
Though he began painting in a post-impressionist style, by the 1940s, when Avery painted Fisherman and Wife, his work was characterized by a reduction of elements and an elimination of detail, with an emphasis on color. “I like to seize the one sharp instant in nature,” he said, “to imprison it by means of ordered shapes and space relationships. To this end I eliminate and simplify, leaving apparently nothing but color and pattern. I am not seeking pure abstraction; rather, the purity and essence of the idea—expressed in its simplest form.”