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Sally Michel

Artist Statement


Sally Michel is an American painter and illustrator known for her works that bridged the gap between representational and abstract painting in a style that successfully moved realism forward. This style later became known as the “Avery style”, as her life partner and collaborator was the painter, Milton Avery. Throughout their lives, Michel and Avery shared their studio space, working side by side while critiquing each other’s work. Ultimately the pair developed parallel but unique styles that included the use of abstracted subjects, expressionistic color fields and harmonious but unusual colors.

Sally had limited formal education in the field of art. She joined the staff of Macy’s right after high school where she created fashion illustrations. While working she took evening art classes at New York’s Arts Students League. During the Depression, Sally supported the family through her commercial work which she did for over 30 years. As was typical of this time period, Michel proactively advanced her husband’s career with collectors and art dealers while downplaying her own talents. She rarely showed her work publicly until after Milton’s death in 1965. From then on Sally promoted her deceased husband’s legacy while continuing to paint her own pieces. Michel died in 2003.

Sally Michel’s works are held by many prominent collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Art; National Museum of Women in the Arts; National Portrait Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Reading Public Museum and The Bennett Collection of Women Realists among others.