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Hammock Reader

Accession Number
1974/2.37

Title
Hammock Reader

Artist(s)
Milton Avery

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
1951

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

Dimensions
26 1/8 in. x 41 15/16 in. ( 66.3 cm x 106.6 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Marvin E. Klein

Label copy
Milton Avery
United States, 1885–1965
Hammock Reader
1951
Oil on canvas
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Marvin E. Klein, 1974/2.37
In 1951, the year this painting was completed, Avery spent the summer in Woodstock, New York with his wife and their daughter, March, who is probably the reader in the hammock. Avery’s style underwent a subtle shift after he suffered a heart attack in 1949: his work became quieter as he began using more muted color harmonies and applying thin washes of paint to create veiled fields of color. Concerned with surface qualities rather than density and volume, he used flat tones to emphasize the two-dimensionality of the picture plane. This work marks Avery’s later period in which he dropped any hint of facial or ornamental detail and concentrated on shape, color, and composition, simplifying and reducing forms in order to extract their essence.

Subject matter
Milton Avery suffered a massive heart attack in 1949 which marked a significant change in his paintng style, reflected in this work. After his heart attack his paintings and prints featured more muted colors and increasingly abstract forms. The year this painting was painted, Avery spent the summer in Woodstock, NY with his wife, Sally, and their daughter, March, who is probably the reader in the hammock. This work marks Avery’s later period in which he drops any hint of outline, facial and ornamental detail and concentrates on shape, color and composition. He uses undercoats of color, building, layering and scratching to create depth. He uses muted color values and flat tones—he is concerned with surface qualities rather than density and volume. He emphasized the two-dimensionality of the picture plane and was interested in the inter-relation of color and shapes on a single plane.

Physical Description
Painting depicting a featureless female figure, in tones of aqua and light blue extending across the center of the canvas in a light gray hammock. There is a bright white shape, perhaps a book, in the middle of the figure. Behind the figure, the rest of the composition is organized in horizontal sections. At top, a yellow sky; below that are two gently-curved mountains in dark brown, followed by two horizontal planes of color in tan and light brown. KM

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
abstract

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Abstract (fine arts style)
book
figures (representations)
hammock
hammocks
modern and contemporary art
mountains
newspapers
reading
reclining

2 Related Resources

Second Grade: Healthy Living Tour    
(Part of: Docent Curricular Tours)
Grammar and Ekphrasis Writing Portfolio
(Part of: Writing + Art Enrichment Activities)

& Author Notes

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