Evening, 1949, Guy McCoy

Guy McCoy the “father” of silk-screen printing

Guy McCoy, Birds by the Sea, 1968
Birds by the Sea, 1968

Guy McCoy was a genius American artist of the 20th century, engraver and teacher, the founder of the author’s silk-screen printing. Guy McCoy’s unusual paintings were created using a stencil printing plate. The master’s work is bold experiments with different materials and components for paints.

Evening, 1949, Guy McCoy
Evening, 1949


Guy McCoy was born on October 7, 1904 in Kansas. Fond of art since childhood, in 1924 he began to attend courses at the Kansas Art Institute. Guy McCoy won a Tiffany Arts Foundation Fellowship in New York in 1929 and a Student Art League Fellowship in 1930, where he began to work. Three years later, New York Mayor Fiorello Henry La Guardia recruited the artist to create a large poster project that captivated McCoy. The painter developed ideas for printing using a stencil, experimented with a variety of materials, the composition of paints. Since 1932, Guy McCoy was an employee of the Hoboken company, where he was engaged in applied silk-screen printing and in practice he worked out all the possibilities of this technique.

Photo of the artist, Guy McCoy
Photo of the artist

In 1938, an exhibition of McCoy’s seriographic prints was held at the New York Gallery of Modern Art. Basically, these were abstract works. The exposition was a success, and with the light hand of art critics from the United States, the artist began to be considered the ancestor of the author’s silk-screen printing. Guy McCoy equipped a trailer for a workshop and, together with his wife, began to travel around the country. He strove to promote a new form of art to the general public, lectured to painters, showed them how to create paintings using seriographic technique.

In 1940, the artist moved to Vermont, where he began to work for a printing company. Guy perfected his stencil technique, continued to create prints, and participated in the workshop that would later become the National Society for Silk Screen Printing.

Sailboats at anchor, 1960s
Sailboats at anchor, 1960s

In 1945, Guy McCoy traveled to Los Angeles.

Here he founded the Western silk-screen printing society in 1948, becoming its first president. At the same time, the master was engaged in teaching activities he taught art at the University of California and the Palos Verdes Art Center, was engaged in private practice. In 1965 the masters were invited to join the printing society created in the city.

Sunflowers in August, 1976
Sunflowers in August, 1976

In 1970, McCoy’s home and studio were destroyed by fire. Students, fellow artists, and like-minded people helped him to cope with the misfortune. Soon, the painter founded a new workshop in Canoga Park, one of the Los Angeles neighborhoods, not far from his new home. In 1972, he opened a second, larger studio, where he conducted art seminars, created seriographic works, and collaborated with other painters.

Guy McCoy’s life was cut short by illness: Lou Gehrig’s syndrome rapidly developed, affecting the cells of the brain and spinal cord. After spending several months in the hospital, the painter died on March 18, 1981.

Three Trees and Low Sky, 1943
Three Trees and Low Sky, 1943

The most famous paintings by Guy McCoy

Guy McCoy’s paintings are very original, recreating both abstract and realistic images. Among the most expressive works are the following:

  1. Melon and Apples (1940) is one of the author’s best still lifes. He loved this genre, McCoy created laconic, but colorful images of his favorite objects and fruits.
  2. “Three Trees and the Low Sky” (1943) the painting entered the permanent collection of graphics of the Library of Congress.
  3. “Sailboats at anchor” (1960s) the painter often depicted seascapes, certainly including boats and boats.
  4. “Birds by the Sea” (1968) McCoy’s landscapes convey the spontaneity of the author’s impressions. Many nature paintings feature birds, giving them a special charm.

McCoy’s works are popular with collectors, they testify to the genius of this American artist’s talent. Following him, hundreds of painters began to use screen printing in their work as a bright and original way of self-expression.