Mural painter and Illustrator.
American muralist, painter and illustrator. Guerin was born in St Louis, Missouri on November 18, 1866 and moved to Chicago to study art in 1880. Later he was to follow a parade of other American artists and architects of his day to Paris, where he studied with Benjamin-Constant and Jean Paul Laurens. Returning to America after his European sojourn, he began his career as an artist illustrating books, often travel books about exotic places. It is likely that these designs are based on his own travels through North Africa and Palestine. The designs that he did then as well as his ability to romantically depict exotic peoples and places stood him well later when he began painting murals. His mural work typically featured large areas of gold with vermilion, salmon and rose hues and blue and green accents. As with many of the artists of his time Guerin took an active part in the international expositions of his day, showing at the Paris Expo 1900, where he received an honorable mention, the Pan American Expo in Buffalo, New York, 1901, the Louisiana Purchase Expo held in St Louis in 1904 at which he won a silver medal, and the Lewis & Clark Expo in Portland, Oregon in 1905. In 1915, Guerin was asked to serve as color co-ordinator of the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915 in San Francisco. It is likely that connections that he made there led to his one man show at the University of California, Berkeley two years later, followed by several large murals in the Federal reserve Bank in San Francisco. Daniel Burnham, one of Chicago's most influential architects, and his colleague Edward H. Bennett were commissioned to create the Chicago Plan in 1907, a major milestone in the international City Beautiful movement. In pursuit of this effort, Burnham invited Guerin paint a series of renderings of Burnham and Bennett's proposed cityscape to complement the numerous maps and plans that gave more technical information. The majority of these original renderings--by Guerin and other artists--are in the collection of the Department of Architecture at The Art Institute of Chicago, while others are currently owned by the Chicago Historical Society. In 1903, he travelled to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and painted "Pittsburgh as Hell with the Lid Off" for Lincoln Steffens, a renouned Muckraker. Lincoln Steffens mentions this in his autobiography. In 1912, when architect Henry Bacon began working on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., he hired Guerin to create renderings of his proposed designs. After he received the commission, Bacon retained Guerin to paint the two large murals, Reunion and Emancipation, that decorate the interior of the memorial, allegorical figures that today serve primarily as the backdrop to Daniel Chester Frenches Seated Lincoln statue.
Men of Galilee