A Globe and Mail’s Spring 2021 Book Preview Selection
Molly Lamb and Bruno Bobak shot to prominence as war artists during the Second World War. Marrying shortly after the end of the war, they moved first to Vancouver and then, in 1960, to Fredericton, where they settled permanently. Molly’s paintings were vibrant and colourful, featuring dynamic crowd scenes and wildflowers that seem to wave on the page. In contrast, Bruno painted near-abstract cityscapes, stunning landscapes, and distorted bodies wracked with inner torment, work that is unique in Canadian art.
In this book, acclaimed author Nathan M. Greenfield brings to light the private and public lives of two of the most important figures in 20th century Canadian art. Greenfield combines archival research into Molly’s diaries and letters with dozens of full-colour reproductions of their work, archival photographs, interviews with friends and contemporaries, and an analysis of paintings by both artists. The result is an intimate portrait of the art and lives of Molly Lamb and Bruno Bobak: their critical acclaim, commercial success, and a turbulent marriage that lasted over fifty years.
Nathan M. Greenfield is the author of eight books, including The Damned: The Canadians at the Battle of Hong Kong and the POW Experience, 1941-45, shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction. A regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, Greenfield’s articles have also appeared in the Walrus, Canada’s History, the Globe and Mail, and Maclean’s.
"A nuanced assessment of their individual work and styles, and, through Lamb’s diaries, a portrait of a tempestuous 50-year marriage. "
— Emily Donaldson
"Greenfield offers new insight into Bruno and Molly Lamb Bobak’s complex relationship. They met and married in the aftermath of the Second World War, having served as official war artists, and continued to paint for decades. Based on new evidence, this book captures the Bobaks’ intertwined lives, their clashing relationship, and the enduring value of their art. "
— Tim Cook, author of <i>The Fight for History</i>
"Relying on the frank diaries Molly kept throughout her life … [their] troubled marriage is chronicled in intimate detail. "
— Paul Gessell
"A rich and detailed work… Greenfield has put the deserved spotlight on these artists. "
— Alison Manley
"Whether as a reference work or a relatively academic account of the contributions of two Canadian artists, this book could be a good choice for a wide range of readers. "
— Susan Huebert
"Greenfield’s book rises far above conventional biography. With his depth of cultural knowledge, Greenfield explores the artistic careers of Molly Lamb Bobak and Bruno Bobak, while unlocking the secrets to appreciating a wide range of visual arts. "
— Carol Bishop-Gwyn, author of <i>Art and Rivalry: The Marriage of Mary and Christopher Pratt</i>
"This engaging biography illuminates the lives of Molly and Bruno Bobak, two of Canada’s most important artists, balancing their personal stories with their visual record. Greenfield’s account of the Bobaks’ lives — charting their artistic development as the hold of the Group of Seven slowly waned and abstraction came to dominate the art world — focuses extensively on their art, offering incredibly close readings of the Bobaks’ remarkable artistic contributions to Canadian art history. "
— Devon Smither, Assistant Professor, Art History/Museum Studies, University of Lethbridge