E. Martin Hennings

Artist Biography

Born in Pennsgrove, New Jersey, Ernest Martin Hennings is known for his bright images of the Southwest. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, then at the Royal Academy in Munich, Germany, where he met painters like Walter Ufer (1876–1936) and Victor Higgins (1884–1949). In 1914 he returned to Chicago and worked as a muralist and commercial artist. He first visited Taos, New Mexico, in 1917, and four years later would make it his permanent home; he joined the Taos Society of Artists in 1924. Upon his encounter with Taos, his palette became lighter and his brushstrokes thinner and more precise. The components of landscape and local figures melded in his work. Hennings once said, “New Mexico has almost made a landscape painter out of me, although I believe my strongest work is in figures." His final project before his death was a commission from the Santa Fe Railway for a series of paintings to be hung on the Navajo Reservation. Hennings won twelve national prizes between 1916 and 1938, most often painting Native Americans and the dramatic landscapes of New Mexico, incorporating stylized patterns and vivid colors. His work has been exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, National Academy of Design, Corcoran Gallery, and 1927 Paris Salon, among other venues. Today, his work is in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Denver Art Museum, among others.

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