Lot 58
  • 58

Milton Avery

400,000 - 600,000 USD
372,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Milton Avery
  • Two Nudes
  • signed and dated 1954; signed, titled, dated 1954 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 27 x 37 inches


Acquired directly from the artist after 1958

Catalogue Note

Edward Albee purchased Two Nudes directly from Milton Avery. He writes of his introduction to the artist and acquisition of the present painting: “I can’t recall how I became aware of Avery’s world. Was it a reproduction in an art magazine? Was it seeing that superb Paris painting at the Whitney? Was it during a visit to a small gallery on Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, in a conversation with its gentle and informed owner, Morris Weisenthal, when he showed me an Avery etching of a reclining female nude–elongated, distorted, simplified, brought down (up?) to its essence?

“Perhaps it was none of these times, but soon enough after that found me–through the courtesy of the gentle Mr. Weisenthal–at Avery’s apartment in New York City, meeting Milton and Sally Avery and being allowed to spend a quiet hour rummaging privately through a hundred or so canvases. A quiet hour? Well, quiet in my awe, perhaps, but I was engulfed by color, a color sense that I personally find relating most closely to the Japanese woodcut, a bravery and surprise of color that Munch also occasionally achieved.

“I was hooked. I was young and quite poor at the time, and while Avery’s prices in those days were still a laugh, I could afford only one painting. I chose a canvas of two sprawled figures–one ghostly white, the other Avery blue, on a brown field–and went industriously back to my desk to write another play so that I could get some more” (Stretching My Mind, New York, 2005, p. 68).