Checker PlayersArtist(s)Milton AveryArtist NationalityAmerican (North American)Object Creation Date1939Medium & Supportoil on canvasDimensions
30 1/16 in x 40 ¼ in (76.36 cm x 102.24 cm);36 ⅝ in x 46 11/16 in x 1 ¾ in (93.03 cm x 118.59 cm x 4.45 cm)Credit LineGift of Mr. and Mrs. Roy R. NeubergerLabel copy
A self-taught painter, Milton Avery is an important late twentieth-century American colorist. Mark Rothko (1903–1970), a painter whose own work with intense color often glows with an almost mystical luminosity, has lauded Avery as a "a poet of sheer beauty." Avery favored the sophisticated use of decorative color in the works of Henri Matisse (1869–1954), and especially admired the pure colors and jarring complexities of the French artist’s figure painting. Like Matisse, Avery chose to eliminate representational detail in order to find a simplicity of form that would emphasize his original exploration of color. His use of familiar figures (often his family members or visitors to his studio) gave him the freedom to concentrate on creating powerful expressions of mood and atmosphere.
In "Checker Players," strong colors and careless shapes are pushed forward and clutter the front of the picture plane. Avery’s depiction of a tranquil, even somber, mood is less about how the players looked than how the artist felt. As Matisse wrote in 1908, "Composition is the art of making a decorative arrangement of the elements from which the painter can choose to express his feelings."
(A. Dixon, 20th Century Gallery installation, June 1999)Primary Object Classification Painting Primary Object Typefigure paintingCollection AreaModern and ContemporaryRights
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couches (reclining furniture)
modern and contemporary art