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Pink Still Life

Milton Avery ( 1938 )

Collection item 0042
  • Period Twentieth-Century
  • Materials Oil on cardboard
  • Object Number 0042
  • Dimensions 15 x 22 in.; 38.1 x 55.88 cm.; Framed: 20 7/8 in x 26 5/8 in x 1 1/4 in; 53.02 cm x 67.63 cm x 3.18 cm
  • Credit Line The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1943; © 2022 Milton Avery Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Milton Avery was a supreme colorist. He quickly realized how much pathos he could express through his bold use of color. When Avery painted Pink Still Life in 1938, he had not fully gravitated towards abstraction, but he did have a firm grasp on the nuance of color. Avery found ways to elevate the status of still life through his style and technique.

The bold shapes and flattened picture plane in the work are reminiscent of the cubists. The table is tilted on such an angle that the objects appear as if they will fall right out of the painting. Avery managed to convey space and three-dimensionality through his thoughtful use of color, smartly juxtaposing the soft light pink background against the stark white and pale blue bottle and glass. The subtle hints of warm yellow and red add a certain liveliness to the painting. At this point in his career, Avery had not yet begun to use individual flat panels of color, though this painting could serve as a transitional from the use of color variations and thick brushwork to soft, thin washes of distinct color, the style for which Avery is most remembered.