James Meikle Guy (1909 - 1983)
??? Rides the Horse of Uccello, 1939
Oil on canvas on board
24 x 30 inches
Signed and dated at lower right: Guy / ‘39
By descent in the family of the artist
Private Dealer, Connecticut
BROCK & CO., Concord, Massachusetts, 2015
Boyer Galleries, New York, New York, no. 2134
James Meikle Guy was an artist and a political activist, and used his art to reflect his strongly held beliefs. He painted in a Social Surrealist style during the 1930s, creating a rather unique manner that combined the manipulations of pure Surrealism with social commentary and criticism.
Born in Middletown, Connecticut in 1910, Guy studied at the Hartford Art School with Albertus E. Jones (1882-1957). Guy began exhibiting paintings at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in the late 1920s. In 1931, the Wadsworth happened to hold the exhibition “Newer Super-Realism”, which was first showing of Surrealism in the United States. Here, Guy would have encountered the work of Salvador Dali, Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst, an exposure that clearly had profound effect on his artistic sensibility.
By the time Guy moved to New York City to continue his studies at the Arts Student League in 1932, he was already politically active, and helped produce a labor play titled “Strike” in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Once in Manhattan, he joined several political organizations, including the John Reed Club, an organization founded by staff members of The New Masses to support leftist and Marxist activity. While Guy agreed with the political sentiments of his fellow members, he admitted to having “trouble in the Club over the ambiguity of [my] images.” (quoted in Isabelle Dervaux, Surrealism USA (2005) p. 25) Guy simply wasn’t going to paint realist pictures of raised fists or stony portraits.
Guy’s paintings of the 1930s were focused on “national problems: unemployment, worker’s rights and bureaucratic control (Ilene S. Fort, James Guy (1983) n.p.).