Robert Genn

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Robert Genn on location at Lake of the Woods, Ontario

Robert Douglas Genn (May 15, 1936 – May 27, 2014) was a Canadian artist, who gained recognition for his style, which is in the tradition of Canadian landscape painting.[1][2]

Life and work[edit]

Robert Genn was born in Victoria, British Columbia to an English mother and Scottish father.

Picnic Point to Philip Glass Lake of the Woods, 30" x 34", acrylic on canvas, by Robert Genn.

He identified with and has been compared to the 1920s Canadian Group of Seven.[3] In 1961, he met Lawren Harris who was a neighbour in Point Grey, Vancouver.[4] 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."[4] Genn said this was "valuable advice", which enabled him "to control the gradation and work up into the trees in a more abstract manner."[4] He was a practitioner of plein air painting, and he liked to set his easel in the same spot as his predecessors, such as J. E. H. MacDonald in the Canadian Rockies.[5]

He ran the Painter's Keys web site, a worldwide artists' community, with his staff and volunteers. The web site sends out a free twice-weekly newsletter, which is sent to 135,000 artists in over 100 countries,[6] and claims the largest collection of art quotes online with over 5,382 authors quoted.[7] His "Ten Commandments of Art Pricing" on his web site (reprinted on advise starting cheaply, raising prices slowly, keeping them the same for all purchasers and pricing by size.[8]

In 2005, Genn campaigned against the Chinese website,, which was selling thousands of high-resolution images of around 2,800 artists' work illegally, without permission.[4][9] After failing to gain support from the Canadian government or the Chinese embassy in Ottawa,[4] 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[9] to the company and governments.[6] This stimulated a diplomatic protest letter to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Trading and Law Department from the Canadian Embassy in Beijing.[6] Genn credited the campaign with the subsequent removal of images by 800 Canadian artists from the arch-world,[4] although many works were reinstated on arch-world soon after.[9]

Genn was a member of the Board of Directors at Emily Carr College of Art & Design.[3] In 2006, a retrospective of his work, consisting of 16 paintings sourced from across Canada, was held at the Surrey Art Gallery.[10]

Genn announced in his Twice-Weekly Letter of 25 October 2013 that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.[11] He died at his Surrey, British Columbia home at 10:20 am on 27 May 2014 according to his daughter Sara Genn in the Twice-Weekly Letter of 30 May 2014.[12][13] Several months after his death, four galleries across Canada held honorary openings of his work.[14]


Genn wrote three books. In Praise of Painting (2012) is an illustrated autobiography of his early years. The Dreamway (1987) is an account of a meeting with a spiritual seer. The Painter's Keys (2000) is a handbook for painters based on one of his creativity seminars.

Representation and collections[edit]

As of early 2020, 621 works have had auction sales.[15] His work is represented by 12 galleries in Canada.[16] Solo shows include Jenkins Showler Gallery, White Rock; West End Gallery, Edmonton; Hambleton Galleries, Kelowna, The Art Emporium, Vancouver;[3] and Canada House Gallery, Banff, AB.[17] He was one of the 60 elected senior members (SFCA) of the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA).[2]

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,[3] Glenbow Museum and the Government of Belgium.[17]


  1. ^ Genn, Robert. "Painting using cues from nature". Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Robert Genn, SFCA". Federation of Canadian Artists. Archived from the original on 19 February 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d "Artists: Robert Genn". Jenkins Showler gallery. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Brennan, Brian (1999). "Homage - Robert Genn". Galleries West. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2009.
  5. ^ Bouchard, Gilbert (18 April 2008). "Painter taps ubiquitous beauty". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 13 January 2020 – via Free to read.
  6. ^ a b c Cernetig, Miro (29 December 2005). "Chinese firm 'steals' art by painters here". The Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  7. ^ "Robert Genn quotes". Archived from the original on 3 August 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
  8. ^ Boddy-Evans, Marion. "The Ten Commandments of Art Pricing". Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  9. ^ a b c Whyte, Murray (9 December 2005). "Chinese site rips off art". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  10. ^ Browne, Alex (23 April 2006). "Genn Retrospective". Surrey Leader. pp. 41–42.
  11. ^ Genn, Robert (25 October 2013). "The bomb". Archived from the original on 4 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  12. ^ Genn, Sara (30 May 2014). "Robert Genn (May 15, 1936 - May 27, 2014)". Archived from the original on 5 June 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  13. ^ Alex Browne (2014-05-29). "Noted Canadian landscape artist Robert Genn passes". Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  14. ^ Griffin, Kevin (23 October 2014). "Surrey artist's life honoured with exhibitions". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 13 January 2020 – via Free to read.
  15. ^ "Robert Genn (1936-2014)". Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Robert's work is represented by". Retrieved 14 February 2007.[dead link]
  17. ^ a b "Robert Genn SFCA". Canada House Gallery. Archived from the original on 19 February 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2007.

External links[edit]