A 300 piece puzzle of E. Martin Hennings, "Among the Aspens", before 1939, oil on canvas painting.
E. Martin Hennings first visited Taos in 1917 and became a resident in 1921. He was raised in Chicago, in a family that encouraged his early interest in drawing. He pursued this interest in studies at the Art Institute of Chicago and later, at the Munich Academy in Germany. After briefly returning to Chicago, Hennings returned to Europe. It was here that he met Walter Ufer and Victor Higgins, fellow artists who would be instrumental in his move to northern New Mexico.
In 1917, Hennings headed to New Mexico on a commission from the former Mayor of Chicago, Carter H. Harrison, and meat-packing magnate Oscar Meyer. Hennings settled in New Mexico permanently in 1921 and three years later, he was elected into the Taos Society of Artists. His artistic response to New Mexico was personal but very powerful; those familiar with his paintings begin to see the New Mexico landscape through his eyes: the aspens and cottonwoods take on sinuous shapes, the sky and clouds seem larger than life and his paintings of Indians riding quietly on horseback leave an impression of Taos in the early part of the century.
Hennings was never concerned about financial situations, but only about doing his best work on every painting. A result of this attitude is a body of work that is uniformly high in quality. Hennings was a gifted and prolific artist, working in several media with equal facility. He developed a highly individual artistic style in his painting. His palette is glowing, rich and bright, and figures are often composed in a decorative and graceful manner. As a result, his paintings are often almost jewel like, as if in a rich tapestry. This visual intensity is often heightened by Hennings' use of strong linear modeling, a legacy of his studies of Jugendstil. Hennings move to Taos released a burst of creative energy that led to his being awarded a number of prizes and major exhibitions; his work remains among the most compelling of all Taos artists.