An artist who depicted traditional subjects using a modern visual language, Milton Avery held an important role in the development of 20th century American art, particularly Abstract Expressionism (Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, and Barnett Newman were especially indebted to him). Although earlier in his career Avery distinguished himself by depicting urban subject matter, by the end of the 1930s he turned to a more private world, such as landscapes and domestic scenes. In this drawing of a pensive seated nude, Avery achieved a sense of tranquility and monumentality through a restrained and elegant use of line. In drawings such as this one, he worked out ideas about technique and style that he further refined in his canvases. Avery, who drew daily throughout his life, sketched from the model on a weekly basis, and was often joined in his studio by Rothko and Gottlieb for sketching sessions.
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