During the 1940s, a distinct shift transpired in Milton Avery’s consideration of color: the darker, more subdued palette that characterized his earlier work began to brighten and become more brilliantly saturated. The forties also marked Avery’s association with the renowned French art dealer Paul Rosenberg, who arrived in New York from Paris in 1940 and represented renowned painters such as George Braque, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
Inspired in part by Matisse and other Fauvist artists who emphasized color over representational qualities, Avery shifted away from his more detailed compositions in favor of simplified, smooth and strongly colored forms. In the summer of 1946, Avery and his family traveled to Mexico. The strong light and vibrant color he experienced during his journey informed pictures such as Music Makers, which he painted upon returning to New York later that year. Avery’s mature career is marked by a transition towards minimal, almost abstract compositions created with broad planes of saturated, flattened color, as demonstrated in Ringed Sun of 1963. These works have a distinctively elegant quality, and mark the culmination of Avery’s career. Artists such as Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb found significant inspiration in these later works, ultimately developing Avery’s aesthetic into fully abstract paintings.