Indian Woman Smoking
In the early 20th century, Modernist artists found a new sponsor and subject when socialite and art collector Mabel Dodge Luhon helped sponsor an art colony in Taos, New Mexico. The new colony, which focused on Southwestern subjects, including the Native American population and surrounding desert and mountain scenery, and depicted them without the narrative structure or sentimental nostalgia of earlier artists, attracted painters like Joseph Henry Sharp, Nikolai Fechin, Georgia OKeeffe, and E.M. Hennings. Ernest Martin Hennings began his career as a commercial artist specializing in murals. Unsatisfied doing commercial work, he left to study at the Royal Academy in Munich in 1913, but found his studies cut short by the outbreak of World War I. In 1917, he first visited Taos, already a significant art colony, but it took three years for him to abandon commercial art and move there full-time to pursue a career as an independent painter. Taos opened up his style; his palette brightened and he found fresh subject matter for figurative painting in the local Native American population. In 1924, he was elected a member of the prestigious Taos Society of Artists.