Pelicans by Southern Sea, 1950
Gouache on paper
22 x 30 inches
Signed and dated lower left
The success of Avery’s art lies in his ability to modernize familiar scenes in nature and domestic life by transforming them into carefully orchestrated arrangements of color and form. He once said, “I like to seize the one sharp instant in nature, 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.”
Further, Avery’s work represents an exploration of folk art. His paintings of animals and birds suggest the static and simplified wooden decoys, weathervanes, and other forms in the tradition of American folk art. In Pelicans by Southern Sea the bird at center proudly stands tall on the beach, yet its stillness and simplification suggest that it was painted in the likeness of a wooden decoy. The two pelicans in flight above the distant, choppy waters are less defined and serve as a juxtaposition in form, color, and pattern to the ocean waves.