Norah McGuinness trained at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art and at Chelsea Polytechnic in London before spending the 1920s working in Dublin as a book illustrator and stage designer. She married the editor Geoffrey Phibbs, but they divorced in 1929. The same year she followed the advice of Mainie Jellett and travelled to Paris to work at the studio of André Lhote. From there she moved to London where she was a member Lucy Wertheim's 'Twenties Group' and of the avant-garde London Group. From 1937-39 she lived in New York. After New York, she returned to Ireland, settled in Dublin and concentrated on painting.
Although her work remained figurative, she painted vivid, highly coloured landscapes; her work shows the cubist influence of Lhote and she was associated with the modern movement in Ireland. She helped found the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943 and became its president in 1944 after the death of Mainie Jellett.
Work in collections
- The Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
- The Irish Museum of Modern Art
- The National Gallery of Ireland
- The Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery
- The Victoria and Albert Museum London
- The Arts Council of Ireland
- The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, including
- Meath County Council, including
- The National Library of Ireland
- S.B. Kennedy (2002), McGuinness, Norah in Brian Lalor (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. ISBN 0-7171-3000-2
- David Scott (1989), The Modern Art Collection, Trinity College Dublin. Dublin: Trinity College Dublin Press, Dublin. ISBN 1-871408-01-6.
- Meath County Council biographical note
- Norah McGuinness illustrations for a 1926 edition of Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy