Rothko with Pipe - Milton Avery - Two Art Legends Linked
Etching of an art legend, Mark Rothko, by another art legend and his friend and mentor, Milton Avery.
Rothko with Pipe
Milton Avery
New York, 1936
Etching with drypoint, on wove paper, signed and dated in pencil by Avery. Numbered 19/60(there was also an artist’s proof copy), with wide margins. In a mid-century wooden frame. Tiny spots at the bottom right corner of the mat, otherwise excellent.
Framed image: 8.5 x 7.75 in. (216 x 197 mm.) 
Mat: 14.25 x 13.5 in. (362 x 343 mm.) 
An attractive example of a rare piece - I could only locate 4 examples at auction in the last 80 years. Otherwise, these are found at prominent institutions like the Smithsonian. Ex-William Kelly Simpson, eminent professor of Egyptology and Archaeology at Yale University.
‘From the 1930's onward, Avery had won the esteem of several important dealers, collectors and critics. Rothko, who had been decisively influenced by Avery's work, was one of his most devoted admirers, and there was already a younger generation of American painters deeply indebted to it. There was even a period in the 1940's when Avery was so famous that a New York critic - Maude Riley - spoke of his having lately become ''a sort of institution.''’(Kramer)

“Milton Avery’s singularity of purpose and devotion to his personal aesthetic vision can be equaled by only a few 20th century artists. Working with total commitment to his ideas and with complete unconcern for movements or labels, Avery believed that an artist’s first obligation was to be true to his art and its demands. His was an independent vision in which everything extraneous was removed and only the essential components were retained. Avery’s remarkable color sense, his chromatic harmonies of striking subtlety and invention, paved the way for later generations of American colorists. Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb are among the many artists who have acknowledged a profound debt to Avery and his work.” (Moore)
Sally Avery [Milton Avery's wife]:
‘The first time we met Mark Rothko I think was in either 1929 or 1930. He was a friend of Louis Kaufman, a musician, who came from Portland, Oregon, where Mark was brought up. Louis Kaufman was crazy about Milton's work, and he was always bringing people to see it. One day he said to us, “I have an artist who came from Portland I'd like you to meet,” and he brought Rothko over and Milton and he liked each other immediately...
When we first met him, he was living with Louie Harris in an East side tenement with the toilet in the yard or something…When we moved to 72nd Street, he got a place right across the street from us and we used to go back and forth. You know, he was at our house every night till one day he said, “You have to come over to my place. I'm going to make the tea tonight.” So we went over. It was just across the street. He worked there and lived there. He served us this tea and I said, “Mark, this tea tastes very funny. What did you do with it?” He looked over and said, “Oh, my God, I made it in the same pot I cooked my glue.”
He was always a brooding type of person, but we just considered that was the Russian in him. No one thought of it seriously. I remember one incident that shows you how neurotic he was. He thought he was sick all the time. He thought he had cancer - I mean he was always imagining that he had these terrible diseases. And once he went into the hospital and stayed there three weeks and they did all sorts of tests on him; of course they didn't find anything... He was very much a hypochondriac...This was when we first met him in the '30s. But there were lots of times when he was just great.’

Elaine de Kooning:

"... Avery influenced Rothko. Rothko explained to me that Avery was the first person that Rothko knew who was a professional artist 24 hours a day. And he gave Rothko the idea that that was a possibility. But also Avery's attitude toward color - I mean, Rothko had much more to do with Avery. Of course, what Rothko had that Avery did not have was scale. And also Rothko freed the color from shapes. I mean, with Avery the color always inhabited shapes and, you know, logical divisions. So Avery was a very powerful influence on Rothko's life.”

Rothko with Pipe - Milton Avery - Two Art Legends Linked