Open main menu

Robert Guinan (March 14, 1934 – April 3, 2016) was an American painter based in Chicago.[1] The subject matter of his work includes but has not been limited to street performers, musicians, barflies, historical scenes, landscapes and building structures. Lauded in Europe but widely unknown in his native Chicago, Guinan's work reflects a documentary quality that has been compared to "that of the Parisian demi-mondes as chronicled and interpreted by Toulouse-Lautrec".[2]

Toulouse-Lautrec was in fact an influence on Guinan; as a young man he saw the film "Moulin Rouge" and felt like Toulouse-Lautrec, the 19th-century French painter known for his portraits of night life in Paris.[3]



Public collections include Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon; Musée de Grenoble; Musée du dessin et de l’estampe originale, Gravelines; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Sintra Museu de Arte Moderna, Collection Berardo, Sintra, Portugal.


Guinan's work has been featured in exhibitions as follows:

Year Exhibition
1950 Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, Watertown, New York.
1961 "The Little Chapel around the Corner”, Chicago; “Robert Guinan: paintings, drawings, lithographs”, Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago.
1969 Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL.
1972 Galerie Ariadne, Vienna.
1973 Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1974 Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1976 Atelier-Galerie Le Lutrin, Lyon. “Dessins”, Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1977 “Peintures”, F.I.A.C., Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb. “Peintures”, Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1978 Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1979 Galleria Documenta, Turin. “Peintures”, Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1981 F.I.A.C., Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb. Musée de Grenoble.
1982 Musée d'Ixelles, Bruxelles. Lens Fine Art, Anvers.
1985 Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1986 “Dessins”, F.I.A.C., Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb.
1988 “Dessins de 1972 à 1987”, Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1989 Chicago International Art Exposition, Galerie Albert Loeb. “Peintures et études”, Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1990 F.I.A.C., Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb. Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
1991 F.I.A.C., Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb.
1997 “Les portraits de Loretta”, peintures et dessins, F.I.A.C., Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb.
1998 “Dessins 1988-1998, oeuvre gravé et lithographié 1961-1998”, Association Malbodium Museum, Centre Culturel de l’Arsenal, Maubeuge;

"Oeuvres des années soixante", Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris; "Peintures et dessins", LARC, scène Nationale, Le Creusot.

2001 Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.
2005 Académie de France à Rome, Villa Medici, Rome
2006 Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.

Group Exhibitions

Year Exhibition
1957 “Seventh Regional Art Exhibition”, Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, Etat de New-York.
1968 “Nonplussed Some”, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, with Ed Paschke, Edward C. Flood, Sarah A. Canright, Richard D. Wetzel.
1972 Foire de Bâle, “Art 72”, Galerie Ariadne, Vienna.
1976 "Chemins de la Création", Château d'Ancy-le-Franc, France. “Nouvelle Subjectivité”, Festival d'Automne, Paris.
1977 “Nouvelle Subjectivité”, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles. “Nouvelle Subjectivité”, Espace Lyonnais d’Art Contemporain, Lyon. "Réalisme, réel, réalité, Abbaye de Beaulieu en Rouergue
1978 - 1979 Ateliers d'Aujourd'hui : Oeuvres contemporaines des collections nationales, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
1982 Biennale de Venise, Pavillon International.
1984 "L'Imagine e il suo doppio", Italie (exposition itinérante). “Souvenirs d'un musée à la campagne”, Château de Tanlay, France.
1985 “Neuf artistes de la Galerie Albert Loeb”, Galleria Forni, Bologne.
1987 Foire de Bâle, “Art’ 87", Galerie Albert Loeb.
1990, 1991 Salon de Mars, Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb.
1991, 1996 F.I.A.C., Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb.
1997 “La Pelle Nera”, Galleria Marieschi, Monza, Italy.
1999–2000 “Exterior Spaces, Interior Spaces”, Musée de Villach, Austria.
2000, 2003 Pavillon des Antiquaires et des Beaux-Arts, Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb, Paris.


Robert Guinan's life and work has been the subject of two films including the 1995 documentary "Division Street U.S.A.: while following Robert Guinan" (Frederic Compain, 52 min, Coproduction Dune, Leapfrog Production, Arte - G.E.I.E.) and the 2006 documentary "Robert Guinan, un peintre en marge du rêve américain"(Albert Loeb and Nicole Sérès, 48 min, Les Films Lazare)

Life and careerEdit

Guinan was born in 1934 in Watertown, New York. His mother, the late Dorothy M. Guinan, encouraged his interest in art. Because formal art instruction was not offered at Immaculate Heart Academy (IHA), night classes were arranged beginning at age 13 or 14 with Mary Morley, an art teacher at Watertown High School who was mentioned in Who's Who of American Art.[3]

Guinan's first exhibition occurred when he was just 15 at the Watertown library. A critic in the Watertown Daily Times called the show "a most creditable exhibit for an artist of his age and training" and said of his work the following: "slightly on the impressionistic side, his paintings display a fine sense of color rendering, theming and composition, although still lacking a little in delineation." That show led to annual exhibits of his works through his high school years. Times writer David F. Lane wrote in 1950 that his paintings were "of such character in composition, coloration and brush technique as to definitely forecast a promising future for him in the field of art." He praised the 16-year-old artist's "rare genius for capturing action in tense moments, and in rendering facial expressions which accurately represent the mood and thought of the character."[3]

Guinan graduated from IHA in 1951, and initially worked a day job in a dental lab. He lived in a YMCA hotel. In 1953, Guinan enlisted in the Air Force after considering a potential Army draft during the Korean War. He served as a radio operator in North Africa and Turkey while continuing to practice drawing and painting.

In 1959, Guinan began living and working in Chicago after enrolling in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. "I would go out in the joints and draw," Guinan is quoted as saying. "One joint was called the Green Mill," a name which Guinan appreciated due to its correlation with a painter he'd been inspired by. "Toulouse-Lautrec hung out at the Moulin Rouge, the Red Mill."[3]

In 1972, Robert Guinan was introduced to Parisian art dealer Albert Loeb. Beginning in 1973, Guinan worked regularly with the Albert Loeb Gallery.[4] As of 2010 he is represented locally in Chicago.

Guinan died in Evanston in 2016. One son, Paul, is a comic-book artist and creator of the fictional character Boilerplate. Another son, Sean (b. 1970), is a film maker and musician known for prize-winning films including "Teplitz; the Tyranny of Paradox" and "Flipping the Whale", and his cabaret-style band, Candy Town.


  1. ^ O'Donnell, Maureen (April 5, 2016). "Robert Guinan, painter of gritty and lovely Chicago, dead at 82". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  2. ^ Robert Guinan: Beyond Biography, Beyond Story by Andrew Patner. Robert Guinan Exhibit, Academie de France, Villa Medici. 2005. pp. 17–19.
  3. ^ a b c d Golden, John. "HUNTING GUINAN: An artist renowned in France finds fame elusive in his native land". Article. New York Times. Retrieved 2004. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ Loeb, Albert. "Robert Guinan". Artist Profile. Gallerie Albert Loeb. Archived from the original on 2011-10-04.

External linksEdit