Milton Avery was born in Altmar, New York on March 7, 1885. In 1898, his family moved to the village of Wilson Station, CT.
In 1915, after the deaths of his father, two brothers, and brother-in-law, Avery was thrust into the role of provider for a family of eleven. In order to paint during the day and support his family, he worked as a file clerk on the night shift at the Travelers Insurance Company from 1917 to 1922. In 1918, Avery transferred to the School of the Art Society of Hartford for their daytime program of formal instruction. In 1919, Avery won two top awards from the school: best painting in portrait class and best drawing in life class.
During the twenties Avery attended art school and summered in the art colony of Gloucester, MA. By the summer of 1924, he was offered free studio space and living accommodations in a rooming house where he met illustrator Sally Michael, whom he married in 1926 and with whom he had a daughter, March.
1930 saw Avery blossom as an artist, with bucolic themes dominating his work. Duncan Phillips acquired"White Riders" for his collection at this time. During his long career, Avery exhibited with Dudensing, Rosenberg, and Durand-Ruel. His first one-man exhibition was at the Phillips Memorial Gallery in 1945. By the mid-1940's, Avery had reached his mature style, making paintings which seemed built out of blocks of color, with greatly reduced compositional elements. His paintings were balanced between shapes and color.
Avery exhibited extensively throughout his career, and painted almost until his death in 1965.