About Mark Heming:
Mark Heming (1907-1999) was a self-taught, modest and extremely private artist who worked from the late 1940’s until his death in 1999. Only his friends and family were aware of his work and it caused him great anxiety to be present when it was being viewed. His work is collected privately and admired by Eric Fischl, David Salle, Jon Robin Baitz, Julie Andrews and Allison Janney among others, but has remained beneath the radar until now.
The faces Heming painted, drew and etched are not portraits. He never worked from models or photographs. Much of his work reflects a lifelong fascination with the human face and the human condition.
Heming was born at home on 79th Street and Park Avenue, New York City, the youngest child of Morris Heimerdinger and Sarah Liebman whose family owned The Liebman Breweries in Brooklyn that produced Rheingold beer. During this time New York’s upper east side was home to many prosperous German Jews and most of these families maintained close ties through friendship and, in many cases marriage. Alfred Steiglitz’s first wife, was first cousin to Sarah Leibman, Mark Heming’s mother, and Steiglitz's brother Leo was the family doctor.
It was first on the streets of New York City, and later during his time abroad in Europe as a young man, that Heming began to log into his memory bank the faces that would be revealed many years later in his work. He was also extremely affected by the faces of destitute people he observed standing on bread lines during The Great Depression.
In 1947 Heming met Mary Jane Christenson through an ad for a typist that he placed in The New York Times. At the time Heming was studying at The New School, working towards a teaching degree in American History. When Christenson looked over the notes she was being asked to type, she noticed that the margins were filled with drawings of faces. She asked who they were and Heming told her they came from his imagination. Christenson said, “…but, you’re an artist”. It was from that day onward that Heming began his artistic life. He and Mary Jane were married three months later and remained married until her death in 1992.
Despite his obscurity Heming was incredibly prolific and produced his art without the need for any public acclaim or encouragement. He was a kind and charming man who possessed a quiet dignity and humor and he remained steadfast as an artist throughout his life. He died at age ninety-two at his home in Sag Harbor, NY.