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Biography & Autobiography Artists, Architects, Photographers

Anything but a Still Life

The Art and Lives of Molly Lamb and Bruno Bobak

by (author) Nathan Greenfield

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Mar 2021
Artists, Architects, Photographers, Canadian, Monographs
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price

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Finalist, Ottawa Book Award (English Non-Fiction)
A Globe and Mail’s Spring 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.

About the author

NATHAN M. GREENFIELD, PhD, is the Canadian correspondent for The Times Educational Supplement and is a contributor to Maclean’s, Canadian Geographic and The Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of The Damned, which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction; Baptism Of Fire, which was a finalist for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction; and the widely praised The Battle Of The St. Lawrence. Greenfield lives in Ottawa.

FACEBOOK: Nathan M. Greenfield Author
TWITTER: @HongKong Battle

Nathan Greenfield's profile page


  • Short-listed, Ottawa Book Award (English Non-Fiction)

Editorial Reviews

“A rich and detailed work… Greenfield has put the deserved spotlight on these artists.”

<i>Miramichi Reader</i>

“A nuanced assessment of their individual work and styles, and, through Lamb’s diaries, a portrait of a tempestuous 50-year marriage.”

<i>Globe and Mail</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

“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.”

<i>Winnipeg Free Press</i>

“Relying on the frank diaries Molly kept throughout her life … [their] troubled marriage is chronicled in intimate detail.”

<i>Galleries West</i>

“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>

“Greenfield combines meticulously considered criticism and a careful chronology of Molly’s and Bruno’s lives.”

<i>Literary Review of Canada</i>

“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>

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