Willem van Genk is Holland’s most prominent outsider artist. He lived his life as a recluse in a small flat in the city of The Hague, fending off intruding bandits with the power of his paintings, collages, drawings and writings, with the hundreds of decorated raincoats he collected and, last but not least, with the miniature trolleybus terminal situated in his living room. In creating these works van Genk little by little gained the power he needed to exist amongst his fellow men. He even transformed himself into King of All Stations and Director of the Orchestra of Coburg, rising high above his original station of insignificant nobody. Van Genk and his artistic productions grew together in harmony. Now, living in a home and separated from the body of his work, van Genk himself slowly deteriorates, while his work gains ground in the art world. Future commentators, searching for truth and meaning, must never lose sight of the original indivisible unity of the man and his work.
The Austrian artist Arnulf Rainer has been collecting outsider art for half a century already. In the Vienna of the 1950s he himself was regarded as a mad outsider. In 1994 Rainer worked with psychotic artists at the mental hospital in Gugging. His interest is not so much in the visual aspect of outsider art, but rather in the way madness moves the hand across the page.
Not without irony, the author relates the story of the origin and development of what, in the course of about 45 years of collecting, would become probably the world’s largest collection of Art Brut, Naive and Outsider Art. Charlotte Zander started collecting as a young adult when for the first time she began to earn some money. The objects of her collecting passion were so-called votive pictures and gifts. After her marriage her interest shifted to avant-garde art and still later to Art Brut and Naive Art. The author follows her path from Cologne, via Heidelberg to Munich, where she founded an art gallery and eventually her own museum at Schloss Bönnigheim. With respect to the addictive aspects of collecting, the author stresses the craving to possess an object and the thrill experienced with each new acquisition.