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Les Indiens d'Amérique

Retour au foyer

E. Martin Hennings : Retour au foyer, 1934, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Un tableau peint par l'artiste E. Martin Hennings alors qu'il habitait à Taos, au Nouveau Mexique. Un couple d'Indiens Pueblos, la femme porte un grand manteau de laine blanche et l'homme a la tête couverte d'un châle à carreaux. Ils marchent en silence dans la neige. C'est le soir et il fait froid. De grandes tiges de tournesol desséchées forment comme une tapisserie naturelle.

Les Indiens Pueblos vivent en gros villages dans une zone aride au pied de montagnes appelées mesas (mesa = table en espagnol) dans la région autour de Santa Fé. Ils cultivent la terre, élèvent du bétail et certains sont des artistes qui fabriquent des poteries, des tapis ou peignent des tableaux qu'ils vendent aux visiteurs.

E. Martin Hennings’s painting for the Public Works of Art Project portrays two Native Americans from Taos Pueblo in the Southwest region of the USA : a man wrapped in a traditional white blanket and a woman wearing a colorful shawl. This serene painting speaks of the deep love Hennings felt for the City of Taos, New Mexico, where he was a leading member of the artists’ colony. His subjects walk quietly through the snow together as the sun sets behind them. In works like this, Hennings created poetic visual connections between the people of Taos and the stunning high desert where they lived. Here the artist contrasts the man’s warm blanket, lit by the golden sunset, with the cold covering of snow on the ground, cast into blue shadows by the hills in the west. Hennings links the two figures to their home landscape by likening them to the tall native sunflowers standing against the sky with their long stalks gracefully intertwined.

While many PWAP artists documented timely scenes of the Great Depression, Hennings chose to celebrate the continuity of local traditions.

The Pueblo Indians of the South West came first in contact with Spaniards in what was then Northern Mexico. Later this region was annexed by the USA after a war against Mexico. Mexico lost then a very large part of its territory, including California. The Spanish time is recorded in the names of many places. They were farmers living in villages (pueblo = village in Spanish) with remarquable skills for growing plants in a dry country that settlers adopted. Nowadays there are 19 villages of Pueblo Indians, renowned for their traditional arts and crafts production, pottery, painting and weaving. They are Christians who integrated their native mythology in religious festivals.

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