Willem van Genk - Megalopolis

05.03.2021 - 27.06.2021

Collection de l'Art Brut
van genk affiche f4 van genk
van genk affiche f4 van genk

Willem van Genk (1927–2005) is a Dutch Art Brut artist whose works – drawings, paintings and model buses - entered the Lausanne museum in the 1980s, when Nico van der Endt, Willem van Genk's gallery owner, introduced him to Michel Thévoz, the first director of the Collection de l'Art Brut.

In his early years, van Genk used drawing as an escape hatch from his everyday life and a means of "travelling" via imaginary cityscapes. As an adult, he settled in The Hague, where he could finally confront his childhood dreams with reality, in particular on visits to major European capitals. In his drawings, then his paintings on large varnished wooden panels, he began using complex cut-up and collage processes, and was directly inspired by his travels, notably in the former USSR, Rome, Paris, Madrid, Copenhagen, Cologne and Prague. Megacities and their characteristic means of transport would become his favourite subjects.

While attacking the consumer society and its diktats, van Genk was also a eulogist of modernity and technological advances, in particular as exemplified by such different modes of transport as dirigibles, planes, buses, metros, rockets and satellites. At the same time art, criminality, religion, Communism, classical music and war loomed large in his output.

Writing, too, is everywhere present amid a graphic proliferation on the cusp of the comic book: cartouches and speech bubbles allow the artist to make his characters speak, or to voice an opinion of his own. In this respect the van Genk oeuvre is also a hymn to justice and tolerance, and a denunciation of the violence inflicted on minorities.

A brochure in French and English, available free of charge to visitors, contains explanatory notes on a selection of works presented in the exhibition. In addition, a book in Dutch and English has been published by the Outsider Art Museum in Amsterdam. It is accompanied by a separate version in French, produced by the Collection de l'Art Brut.

In addition to the works, the exhibition includes a series of photographs by Mario del Curto and Nico van der Endt, introducing us to the artist in his combined living/working space.

Willem van Genk: Megalopolis has been organised in close cooperation with the Museum van de Geest & Outsider Art, Amsterdam and the Willem van Genk Foundation. These Dutch partners have lent major works, which are complemented by those from the Collection de l’Art Brut. The exhibition has further benefited from exceptional loans from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent and private collections in Switzerland and abroad.

Curators: Pascale Jeanneret, curator, and Sarah Lombardi, director of the Collection de l'Art Brut.