Artist biography

Meraud Guevara 1904-1993

Meraud Guevara, née Guinness, was born in London on 24 June 1904. Her father, Benjamin Guinness, belonged to the wealthy Anglo-Irish family, and her mother, Bridget Bulkeley, was an artist. Guevara studied at the Slade School of Art in London (1923-4), in New York under Alexander Archipenko (1926), and at the Académie Julian in Paris (1927). Her family wealth allowed her to enjoy a fashionably bohemian life in the course of which she met Christopher Wood, in whose paintings she featured. When her family thwarted their elopement, they installed her at Mougins where she became attached to the household of Francis Picabia. In April 1928, she wrote the catalogue preface for his New York exhibition (Intimate Gallery) and, in December, Picabia did the same for her first exhibition, Méraud Michael Guinness, at the Galerie Van Leer, Paris. The influence of Picabia's contemporary 'Transparencies' series was evident in her paintings of overlapping linear figures.

She married the London-based Chilean artist Alvaro Guevara in 1929. He painted the deceptively conventional portrait, Meraud Guinness Guevara, 1930 (Tate Gallery T01992) before they settled in Paris. Their daughter was born in 1931 but, although they remained close, their marriage broke down in the following year. In the 1930s Guevara was friendly with Gertrude Stein and the Parisian Neo-Romantic painters. However, she turned to realism, reflecting her friendship and shared concerns with the sculptor Alberto Giacometti, the Breton painter Pierre Tal-Coat and others. As a consequence, the work that Guevara exhibited at the Valentine Gallery in New York (April 1939) was introduced as 'a return to the sources of art' by the critic Waldemar George. Protected by her Irish passport, Guevara spent the war in the south of France, after which she divided her time between Paris and Aix-en-Provence. Alvaro Guevara lived nearby in Aix; with his death in 1951, Guevara became the main promoter of his work. In the 1950s, she experimented with gestural abstraction on plaster panels, which she showed alongside her earlier realistic works at the Ohana Gallery, London (1959). Interest in her work was revived by an exhibition at the Salander Galleries in New York (1978). She continued to paint until prevented by ill-health; she died in Paris on 6 May 1993.

Bibliography:
Diana Holman-Hunt, Latin Among Lions: Alvaro Guevara, London 1974
Alladine Guevara, 'Meraud Guiness Guevara, A Scrapbook of Memories or The Book of Record Guinesses (From the Most Conventional to the Most Bohemian)', unpublished typescript, c.1993

Matthew Gale
April 1996