Hennings, E. Martin

Ernest Martin Hennings was born in New Jersey but moved to Chicago with his family when he was a child. When he was 12 or 13, he and a friend visited the Art Institute of Chicago and the germ of art began to stir in the boy. Hennings studied in Chicago, earned a trip to Munich, and became interested in Art Nouveau ideas of design inspired by natural forms—and derived, in part, from Japanese prints—that was known in Germany as jugendstil, or “youth style.” One of the Taos Founders, Hennings’s paintings typically layer pattern on pattern, color against color in the manner of medieval tapestry. In them, the Taos Indians are the shuttle, moving through the warp, as if their movement creates the tapestry he weaves. Of the first generation of Taos artists, Hennings (and Bert Phillips) seemed to want his art to be above and outside of his times, outside of time itself. Perhaps, after the horrific cataclysm of World War I, there was a need for this, and room for it.