Kelly Grovier at Royal Academy:
Even the critic Clement Greenberg, who had earlier dismissed Avery, came to acknowledge the unique liminal quality of his work, which hovers between representational and non-representational art. “There is the sublime lightness of Avery’s hand on the one side,” he noted, “and the morality of the eye on the other: the exact loyalty of these eyes to what they experience.” A negotiation between Avery’s instinct for “sublime lightness” and the optical exactitude of what his eyes actually experienced can be heard echoing from every canvas. Avery’s art, Greenberg poetically observed, “floats, but it also coheres and stays in place, as tight as a drum and as open as light”.
When Avery died in 1965, Rothko was among the over 600 people to attend his memorial service. He lauded him as “a great poet” in a moving eulogy that celebrated Avery’s work as a “poetry of sheer loveliness, of sheer beauty”.