Gene Merritt


Born 1936 in Colombia – USA.

Gene Merritt grew up in difficult family circumstances. Following the suicide of his mother when he was twelve he and his father moved. He would never manage to attend school and survived from odd jobs. Father and son spent their evenings drinking. When his father died in 1972, Gene Merritt began to live under the supervision of social service which placed him in convalescent homes and other institutions. He thus spent about fifteen years in a small trailer placed behind the house of a family paid to take care of him ; however, they let him slide into utter destitution. After having sold his guitar in 1992, Gene Merritt began drawing. His favourite themes are cinema stars, musicians or singers, whose face is represented divided into segments, forming a sort of puzzle. Creating the drawings is for him his “job,” he calls his works “paperwork”. He gives them away in exchange for a coffee or a meal, they allow him to get by. Today Gene Merritt lives in a house that is at his disposal thanks to a charitable organization. Surrounded by two TV’s – often both switched on -, he is passionate about electronic appliances and CB radios – perhaps a way of staying in touch with the world that has always been alien, not to say hostile to him.

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