Biography: Avery spent his childhood in Hartford, Connecticut, where he studied at the Connecticut League of Art Students while working blue-collar jobs to support his family. He remained in Connecticut until 1925, when he moved to New York with Sally Michal, a fellow art student who he married in 1926. Her income as an illustrator allowed him to dedicate more time to painting and study at the Art Students League. By the mid-1930s, Avery was painting simplified forms filled with flat color, derived from European modern painters like Matisse and Picasso. In the 1930s, he befriended young artists, including Adolph Gotlieb and Mark Rothko who would gain fame as Abstract Expressionists. In the 1940s, Avery pushed his painting toward abstraction and used thin layers of subtle color. Even as the American art world embraced abstraction, Avery continued to explore the border between abstraction and representation.