Robert Henri (1865-1929) spent time in Santa Fe in 1916, 1917, 1922 and 1925 during which time he produced some thirty portraits, mainly of Hispanic and Indian subjects. His enthusiasm for New Mexico brought a number of artists to the area, including John Sloan and George Bellows. Henri crusaded actively against academic conservatism, enlisting younger artists (such as Sloan) and his students (Bellows, Edward Hopper, Morgan Russell, and Stuart Davis) in the cause of artistic freedom and unflinching realism, a belief that led his detractors to dub Henri’s group the “Ashcan” school. In 1908 Henri and other members of the Ashcan “Eight” achieved notoriety with their exhibit at Macbeth Gallery in New York. When Henri met Dr. Edgar Hewitt of Santa Fe’s School of American Archaeology in 1914, the museum director urged Henri to paint in New Mexico. Henri’s strong personality and liberal ideas regarding museum policy, particularly unjuried exhibitions, left a lasting imprint on the newly opened Museum of New Mexico.
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