Bruno Bobak, RCA, 1923-2012

Bruno Bobak had a long, distinguished art
career, culminating in the Order of Canada


Bruno Bobak was born in Poland in 1923 and immigrated to Canada with his parents several years later, the family settling in Ontario.

When he was 13, he attended Saturday morning art classes with Arthur Lismer in Toronto. He later enrolled at the Central Technical School in Toronto, where artist Carl Schaefer was one of his teachers.

Bruno Bobak enlisted with the Royal Canadian Engineers in early 1943, and he earned first prize for one of his artworks in the Canadian Army Art Exhibition at the National Gallery a year later.

When he was shipped overseas, he served as an artist. He was an official Canadian war artist from 1944 to 1946, painting in England and Northwest Europe. More than 100 of Bruno Bobak’s drawings and paintings form part of the Canadian War Collection.

It was while serving as a war artist, that Bruno Bobak met and married a fellow war artist named Molly Lamb.

After the war, both Bruno Bobak and Molly Lamb Bobak continued their art, with Bruno Bobak teaching at the Vancouver School of Art.

Bruno Bobak proved a versatile artist, working throughout his life in oils, watercolour, drawings, woodcuts, pottery, sculpture, murals, furniture making and textiles.

Over the years, he continued to build his career, earning art fellowships and accolades, with his work chosen to be part of the Canadian Pavilion at Brussels, Belgium in 1959.

In 1960, the Bobaks moved to New Brunswick, where he worked at the University of New Brunswick, first as resident artist and then the director of the school’s arts centre.

That began a long association with the province and both Bobaks are often considered Atlantic Canada artists. Bruno Bobak created a number of murals at buildings in New Brunswick and another for the Atlantic Canada pavilion at Expo 67.

Bruno Bobak had some 80 solo shows across Canada and overseas in England and Norway starting in the mid-1950s and continuing for another 3 decades. His works are held in numerous public collections in Canada, including the National Gallery, as well as at galleries in the United States, England and Norway.

Bruno Bobak was active in numerous artistic societies, and was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts in 1973. He received the Order of Canada in 1995.

Bruno Bobak died in 2012, leaving behind Molly Lamb Bobak. The artists had been married 66 years. Molly Lamb Bobak died in 2014.

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists,
 volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker. National Gallery of Canada, Artists in Canada database.