Life and work
Robert Genn was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada to an English mother and Scottish father. In 1940, age four, whilst travelling in his grandfather's Hupmobile coupe through Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, he saw an elderly woman sitting outside, painting a bridge, and said, "Look, Papa, an artist". His grandfather informed him that "Some people think she's crazy" and that she was Emily Carr, an artist whom Genn has credited as a significant influence on his later work.
He identifies with, and has been compared to the 1920s Canadian Group of Seven. In 1961, he met Lawren Harris who was a neighbour in Point Grey, Vancouver. Genn had problems with painting skies, and Harris's advice was to turn the picture upside-down: "Paint down from the trees to the clouds at the bottom of the picture to get the perspective right." Genn said this was "valuable advice", which enabled him "to control the gradation, and work up into the trees in a more abstract manner."
He runs the Painter's Keys web site, a worldwide artists' community, with his staff and volunteers. This sends out an erudite free twice-weekly newsletter, which is sent to 135,000 artists in over 100 countries, and claims the largest collection of art quotes online with over 5,382 authors quoted. His "Ten Commandments of Art Pricing" on his web site (reprinted on About.com) advise starting cheaply, raising prices slowly, keeping them the same for all purchasers and pricing by size.
In 2005, Genn campaigned against the Chinese website, arch-world.com, which was selling thousands of high-resolution images of around 2,800 artists' work illegally, without permission. After failing to gain support from the Canadian government or the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, Genn used his web site to enlist subscribers' support to email objections to the arch-world, resulting within days in over 1,000 online complaints from artists, dealers and politicians to the company and governments. This stimulated a diplomatic protest letter to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Trading and Law Department from the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. Genn credits the campaign with the subsequent removal of images by 800 Canadian artists from arch-world, although many works were reinstated on arch-world soon after.
Genn has been a member of the Board of Directors at Emily Carr College of Art & Design.
Genn has written three books. In Praise of Painting (1981) is an illustrated autobiography of his early years. The Dreamway (1991) is an account of a meeting with a spiritual seer. The Painter's Keys (1999) is a handbook for painters based on one of his creativity seminars.
Representation and collections
As of 2007, 155 works have auction sales. His work is represented by 12 galleries in Canada. Solo shows include Jenkins Showler Gallery, White Rock; West End Gallery, Edmonton; Hambleton Galleries, Kelowna, The Art Emporium, Vancouver; and Canada House Gallery, Banff, AB. He is one of the 60 elected senior members (SFCA) of the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA).
His work is in corporate and public collections, including Air Canada, Bank Of Montreal, Canadian General Insurance, Canadian Airlines, Canadian Utilities, The Churchill Corporation, Expo '86, Esso Resources, First City - California II, Highfield Oil & Gas, Molson Brewery Ltd., Montreal Trust, Shell Resources, University of Alberta, Westgate Chevrolet, Glenbow Museum and Government of Belgium.
- "Painting using cues from nature", About.com. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
- "Robert Genn, SFCA", Federation of Canadian Artists. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
- Brennan, Brian. "Homage - Robert Genn", Galleries West, 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2009.
- "Robert Genn" Jenkins Showler gallery. Retrieved 14 February 2007 A fuller list of collections is on this site.
- "Chinese firm 'steals' art by painters here", The Vancouver Sun, 29 December 2005. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
- "Resource of art quotations", robertgenn.com. Retrieved 14 February 2007
- Boddy-Evans, Marion. "The Ten Commandments of Art Pricing", About.com. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
- Whyte, Murray. "Chinese site rips off art", Toronto Star, 9 December 2005. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
- "Genn, Robert (1936)", artprice.com. Retrieved 14 February 2007
- "Robert's work is represented by:", robertgenn.com. Retrieved 14 February 2007
- "Robert Genn SFCA", Canada House Gallery. Retrieved 14 February 2007.