Robert Guinan: Unsung in Chicago, Renowned Internationally

October 27, 2009

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Robert Guinan. (WBEZ/Jason Marck)
Robert Guinan might be the greatest American painter you've never heard of. His work hangs across Europe in both galleries and the homes of wealthy collectors. The late French president Francois Mitterand was a big fan. Actor Johnny Depp waxed poetic about him in a 2003 GQ article, and visited with Guinan while in town shooting Public Enemies. Guinan's paintings have been compared to the stories of Nelson Algren or the songs of Tom Waits. And it's true – he often paints prostitutes, barflys and other figures in the margin. But he's never had an exhibition here, and no local art dealer has represented him. As Chicago Artists Month comes to a close, we paid a visit to Robert Guinan at his home studio. Guinan says his keen eye came to him early on.


Music Button: Josh Berman, "Let's Pretend", from the CD Old Idea, (Delmark)