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Avery, Milton (1885 - 1965)
March on the BalconyDate: 1952
Movement: American Modernism
Technique: Oil on canvas
Museum: Phillips Collection
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Size: 44 x 34 in.,
Notes: March on the Balcony portrays Avery's daughter at age twenty, reading on a balcony at St. Tropez, where the Averys stayed on their 1952 trip to Europe. The scene was sketched in France and painted after Avery's return to New York. It represents the artistâ€™s mature style in which the elements of the composition are depicted as flat, matte color-shapes; linear detail is minimized and brushstrokes deemphasized in order to focus upon the effect of pure color. The shutters and intricate balcony frame three sides of the scene, enclosing March in a tight foreground space, while the open window displays a flattened, stylized vista of the sea. The figure serves less as a representational element than a compositional one. For Avery, the accurate recording of her features was not essential; spare, incised lines alone define her eyes and mouth.
March on the Balcony reveals Averyâ€™s bold and expressive use of color. It is especially arresting for its Matisse-like contrasts of color: free and arbitrary in the depiction of March's face as dark red; her hair, which Avery usually painted brown, as bright yellow; the balcony as green; and the shutters as purple and blue. The dark, intense colors suggest shade and emphasize the cool interior, while the bleached, subtle tones of the sea and landscape beyond evoke airiness and sunshine.
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