The Military Museums

Bruno Bobak was born in Wawelowska, Poland in 1923. His family moved to Canada in 1925, and eventually settled in Toronto. In his early twenties he attended art school at Central Technical School, in Toronto. Bobak studied under future war artists Carl Schaefer and Charles Goldhammer, learning the technical details which Bobak believed were essential to his career as an artist.

Shortly after graduating, Bobak joined the Canadian Army, as part of the Engineers. He was made an Official War Artist after winning an art competition in 1944. His wife to be, Molly Lamb, placed second in the same competition. Bobak later reflected that becoming a war artist may have saved his life, as most of the company he was with were killed their first day in Europe.

Being a war artist was a job and meant painting everyday, “There was no way you could not paint, that was what you were paid to do.” Bobak’s paintings include scenes from France and Germany, as he traveled with the 4th Canadian Armoured Division. Humans were not the only casualties of war. As Bobak told author Joan Murray, “When soldiers were killed, they were immediately taken away and buried. Nobody bothered with dead animals.” The smell and sight of those animals was a shocking experience for Bobak.

From then on he was included in important exhibitions and galleries in Canada, the United States and abroad with opportunity to travel, explore, and broaden his creative experiences. It was during one such study trip to Europe that news arrived of his appointment as artist-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick in 1960.

It was to be only a one-year stay in Fredericton, but it turned out to be a lifetime. From 1962 until his retirement in 1987, Bruno Bobak was director of the UNB Art Centre. Bruno Bobak passed away on Sept 24th, 2012, in Saint John, New Brunswick at the age of 88.

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