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William Van Genk, (1927 - 2005), was born in Voorburg in the Netherlands, the youngest child and only son in a family of ten. His mother died when he was five. He suffered from severe health and behavioral problems. Van Genk started drawing at home and at school, as a substitute for his dreams of travels to distant countries. He was eventually placed in an orphanage, and then a Christian school specializing in arts and crafts. Here, he studied advertising and graphics for two years but proved incapable of adapting to demands made on him. He was transferred to a home for the mentally handicapped in the The Hague, where 

he received a small salary for his activities in the workshop. With this money, Van Genk bought himself painting materials. His principal sources of inspiration were tourist guides, collected photographs, and, in particular, his voyages to the Soviet Union, Rome Paris, Madrid, Copenhagen, Cologne, and Prague. Van Genk often portrayed the conflict between good and evil, with God, Lenin, and Mao Zedong facing up the Devil, Hitler, and Stalin. His work appeared in exhibitions but he refused to sell to private collectors. Van Genk gave up painting in 1988.

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