Arriving at an abstract style in the latter half of the 1930's, John Sennhauser was one of a select group of American abstract painters to come into the circle of Hilla Rebay, the influential director of the Museum of Non-objective Painting (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation). Born in Switzerland Sennhauser was raised in Italy, and studied art at the Royal Academy in Venice between 1926 and 1927.
In 1928 Sennhauser moved to the United States, settling in New York where he worked as an architectural draftsman. It was while studying at Cooper Union between 1930 and 1933 that Sennhauser developed an understanding of abstract art. To support himself during his early days as an artist, Sennhauser painted murals on private commissions while he taught at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School (1936-39) and at the Contemporary School of Art (1939-1942). It was not until the late 1930's, however, that Sennhauser began to paint the nonobjective works he has become known for.
In 1943 John Sennhauser joined the staff of the Museum of Non-objective Painting as a lecturer, preparator and assistant to the director, Hilla Rebay. While there, under the influence of Rebay, Sennhauser developed an appreciation for the style and mysticism of Kandinsky and for the universal expressiveness of nonobjective art. Two years later Sennhauser would leave the Museum of Non-objective Art as a result of becoming discontent with Rebay's dogmatic philosophy. Fellow abstract artists Jean Xceron, with whom Sennhauser had worked with at the Museum of Non-objective Art, introduced him to the Abstract American Artists group, which he joined later that year. Sennhauser was to have annual exhibitions at AAA until the late 1970's. In 1949 he was elected secretary and treasurer of the group, and held these positions until 1952. Sennhauser continued using a bright palette and an expansive composition enhanced by calligraphic and geometric elements. In 1947 Sennhauser's art begins to introduce more shapes into his work, and by the late 1950's the artist was again painting figurative themes, though this time heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism.