Born in Victoria, BC in 1936, Robert Genn attended the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia and the Art Centre in Los Angeles, California.
One of Canada's most accomplished painters, he gained recognition on an international scale for his genre subjects of Canada's west coast. He had painted in most parts of Canada and the USA, Central America, Europe and the Orient. He was also a man of many talents, one of which is Robert the Inventor. He was often seen sitting on his 'Art Dog', a tow behind a bicycle portable easel that he has designed and built.
Strongly influenced by the Group of Seven, Genn carried on a tradition of strong design, fresh painterly techniques and the ability to reduce grand themes to small panels. Robert developed his techniques and has moved away from the Group of Seven influences to become a painter recognized by his own emerging style. Bob loved painting "en plein air". Assimilating a wide range of influences, from Japanese woodcuts and North West Coast Native art to the Group of Seven, he kept alive the tradition of Canadian landscape schools in a style that is his alone. Genn bridged the gap between popularity and the elements of good art and, as a result, has earned a large and faithful following without compromising his standards.
An unpredictable man, willing to shave his beard for charity or raffle off the chassis of a car at his fortieth birthday party, Robert's enthusiasm and curiosity about life are transmitted through his personality and his art. He owned a 31' classic mahogany speed boat that gives him an opportunity to patrol the ocean and rivers in the Crescent Beach area of British Columbia. His dedication and perseverance had sustained him through the fluctuations of the art market, and he had passed the most crucial test of the artist, the test of time.
Robert had for years reserved a part of his life to explore some of the far reaches and more secluded parts of the world as a source of inspiration and content for his paintings. Through his eye and by his hand we are all able to see the North West coast, the Yukon River, the West Coast Trail, and the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail in France.
In 2000, with his daughter Sara and visits from a chosen few, he set out to become familiar with the Mackenzie River first hand in a boat called the Alexander MacKenzie, designed by Robert himself and built in three weeks by his brother. Embarking from Edmonton, the Genns immersed themselves in the second longest waterway in North America next to the Mississippi. Storms, bears, mosquitoes, solitude and the landscape that is the backbone of our collective conscience painted canvases through the eyes of Robert and Sara. The Alexander MacKenzie was winterized for its stay in Norman Wells and the Genns completed their trip to Inuvik with a side trip to Tuktyuktuk in 2001.
We received numerous paintings that give us a look northward through their eyes and we have also enjoyed reading about their exploits in his twice weekly newsletter.
Robert's paintings are held in many private and corporate collections worldwide. He spent some of his time writing books and a twice-weekly email letter as well as several periodicals. He still made time to help fellow artists by attending and giving workshops.
Robert Genn passed away in May of 2014. He has left a huge impression on Canadian Art. His inspiration, generosity and skills will be remembered through his writing and through his paintings.
View 'Shoulderclips' of Robert Genn painting on location below:
Morning Fog, Dare Beach, On The West Coast Trail 24 x 30 in. Oil on canvas
Silent Watchers 30 x 36 in. Acrylic on canvas
Charlotte's Islet 24 x 30 in. Oil on canvas
Summer of '24 30 x 48 in. Oil on canvas
Village Pattern Kwakiutl 16 x 20 in. Oil on canvas
Houses at Kingcome 10 x 12 in. Acrylic on canvas
Mamalilicoola, BC, 1979 16 x 20 in. Oil on canvas
Pattern Littoral 16 x 20 in. Oil on canvas
Quadra From a Low Perspective 11 x 14 in. Acrylic on canvas
From Quathiaski Cove, Quadra Island 30 x 34 in. Acrylic on canvas
Buildings At Carcross, YT - Yukon River 1993 (From our Yukon Trail Trip) 11 x 14 in. Acrylic on canvas
The Blue Door - 1970 20 x 24 in. Oil on canvas
Porspoder, Brittany 1984 12 x 16 in. Oil on canvas
The Blue Door (reverse) 20 x 24 in. Oil on canvas
Alta Creek, Whistler 30 x 34 in. Acrylic on canvas
High Exaltation, the Gulf 24 x 30 in. Oil on canvas
The White Pony - 1973 24 x 30 in. Oil on canvas
Top of the Scales, Chilcoot Pass 1995 10 x 12 in. Acrylic on birch panel
Approaching Rain 10 x 12 in. Oil on board
Hilltop Sombre 1981 12 x 16 in. Oil on canvas
A Hunter of Tuktoyaktuk - 2000's (Never shown) 12 x 16 in. Acrylic on canvas
Beluga At Tuktoyaktuk - 1983 24 x 30 in. Acrylic on canvas
'High Alpine' or Camisard Rocks in the Cevennes - France 16 x 20 in. Acrylic on canvas
Salt Spring A/P 13 x 17 in. Print Media
From Fox Island, Lake of the Woods 11 x 14 in. Acrylic on canvas
Old Kranatark of Tuktoyaktuk - 1983 20 x 24 in. Acrylic on canvas
A Northern Cove 16 x 20 in. Oil on canvas
Drummers of Ildefonso, New Mexico - 1970 18 x 24 in. Oil on canvas
A Show Off at Vermillion 16 x 20 in. Acrylic on birch panel
Warm Inlet 10 x 12 in. Oil on canvas
Traditional Gaze 24 x 30 in. Acrylic on canvas
Sara In Brittany - 1985 24 x 30 in. Acrylic on canvas
Untitled -Native Village circa 1965 12 x 16 in. Oil on board
Visitors and Sunlight K'san - 1972 30 x 30 in. Oil on canvas
Klag at Squirrel Cove, Cortes Island, BC 11 x 14 in.