Date of this Version
The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery University of Nebraska, Lincoln April 3 through May 1, 1966
There are few painters quite like Milton Avery in the whole history of 20th century American painting. To find his precedent in independence of spirit, purity of vision or completeness of realization one must at least look back to the "loners" of the past century, to Homer, Ryder and Eakins. Of his own generation one can cite Stuart Davis, Edwin Dickinson, Charles Burchfield, or, Arthur Dove, Edward Hopper or Charles Sheeler, and yet, like all these in quality, how different he is at the same time. He does not react in the same way to the influences, foreign and domestic, which have affected so many. From the beginning to the end he is singularly himself and the style which he achieved is intrinsic to the man. It is a temperament, a point of view, a way of life.
In these words the present tense is necessary, for, not only is our separation from the man still a matter of a few months, but more importantly, it is only now that Avery's achievement has suddenly come into focus for a present generation of young Americans.
To bring together the present exhibition has been a pleasure, enhanced by the fact that it was developed as a collaborative project with our friends in Little Rock, also admirers of Avery's art. Nor would it have been possible for us to undertake the project without the help of Sally Avery, whose presence is a part of so many of the pictures. To these circumstances we owe thanks and to the helpful assistance of Grace Brandt and the generosity of the various lenders, public and private. A special gratification lies in the contribution of Frank Getlein which will make this catalogue a significant record of the event. If this exhibition departs from the tradition of The Nebraska Art Association's annual exhibition in presenting the work of a single artist, it does so knowingly and confident that the departure is no real break with tradition but represents instead its maturity.