Willem van Genk - Megalopolis - March 4 through June 27, 2021

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.

The "Willem van Genk - Megalopolis" show in the medias

24Heures, Florence Millioud-Henriques, "Se perdre en ville avec un urbaniste fou", 13.3.21

espazium, Charles von Büren, "Der wilde Willem", 10.3.2021

La Liberté, Aurélie Lebreau, "Van Genk, la vie rêvée dérange", 13.3.21
lacritique.org, Claire Margat, 11 mars 2021
Le Matin Dimanche, Isabelle Bratschi, "Willem van Genk, artiste maudit qui créait des villes inouïes", 28.3.21
Libération, Marie Klock, "Willem van Genk, gardien de brut", 15 mai 2021
RTS la 1ère, Vertigo, Florence Grivel "Les magistrales megapoles de Willem van Genk", 17 mai 2021
RTS, le 19:30, Julie Evard, "Rétrospective du peintre néerlandais Willem van Genk à la Collection de l'Art Brut", 25 mai 2021
Raw Vision, James Brett, "Willem van Genk - Megalopolis", automne 2021

Practical information


March 4 - June 27, 2021

Evening opening

Thursday, March 4, 2021, 6:30pm 


Ans van Berkum, Hans Looijen, Walter van Beirendonk, Sarah Lombardi, Willem van Genk : Woest 1972 - 2005, Lannoo, 2019, 159 pages, with a french translation.

Guided tours

Upon request for groups and classes: in French, German, English.

Press Kit

To be downloaded on the media page


The exhibition Willem van Genk - Megalopolis is accessible to people with reduced mobility.

Associated event(s)

  • Young public workshop "Make yourself a postcard all about imaginary travel" - Saturday 20 March 2021, 02:00 pm

    For kids ages 5 - 10  
    Duration: 1 h 45    
    Fee: 10.-/child

  • Canceled * Free guided tour of the "Willem van Genk, Megalopolis" exhibition - Saturday 20 March 2021, 02:30 pm

    Duration 60 min

    All public

  • Free guided tour of the "Willem van Genk, Megalopolis" exhibition for teachers - Tuesday 20 April 2021, 05:00 pm
  • Young public workshop "Make yourself a postcard all about imaginary travel" - Saturday 24 April 2021, 02:00 pm - online booking, within the limits of the seats available.
  • Young public workshop "Make yourself a postcard all about imaginary travel" - Saturday 29 May 2021, 02:00 pm - Event fully booked
  • Free guided tour of the "Willem van Genk, Megalopolis" exhibition - Saturday 29 May 2021, 02:30 pm