Norah McGuinness trained at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art and at Chelsea in London, before spending the 1920s working in Dublin as a book illustrator and stage designer. In 1929 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 of the avant-garde London Group, and from 1937-39 she lived in New York. After New York, she returned to Ireland, settling in Dublin, concentrating on her painting. Although her work remained figurative, she painted vivid, highly coloured landscapes, and her work shows the cubist influence of Lhote. She was associated with the modern movement in Ireland and helped found the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943, becoming its president in 1944 after the death of Mainie Jellett. With Nano Reid she represented Ireland in the 1950 Venice Biennale, and was elected an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1957, but later resigned. There was a retrospective of her work in the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College Dublin in 1968 and in 1973 the College awarded her an honorary doctorate. Her work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery and the National Library of Ireland, together with private and corporate collections worldwide.