Henry Darger

You might or might not have noticed already but I really have a thing for what most people call freaks and weirdos. So I don’t think I need even to mention that I’ve easily taken the step to ‘outsider art’ and fallen in love with it. I personally loathe this term because even though that there is a clear distinction in style and content, it makes this certain flow of art seem ‘lesser’ than others.  And in my eyes the whimsicality of most of this art is by far from less… I guess I’ll have to live with the term though, since most of the artist that are placed in this terrifying cublicle of ‘ousider art’, ‘lowbrow art’, etc. Etc. Have the reputation of being completely out of their minds. Over here, there’s even a local museum that focuses on this and at the same time this certain place was a former mental health institution and still features numerous artist with psychological problems. Oh but my point of this – and what I really wanted to mention several sentences back- is how amazing some of this art can be. My absolutely favourite artist in this stream is Henry Darger.

Henry Darger was seen as a quiet and solitude man. A bit kooky some might say and very eccentric. He never said a word to anyone unless to talk lengthily and in great detail about the weather and people could hear dozens of different voices coming out of his apartment when he was alone…

As an eight-year-old boy Henry was taken into a Catholic boys’ home after his father had gotten too old and weak to take care of him. After Darger Senior died in 1905, the thirteen-year-old Henry was institutionalized as feeble-minded. “Little Henry’s heart is not in the right place,” the doctor said. When sixteen, Henry finds himself a menial job and continues along the same path of monotony for the rest of his life. He attends Mass daily and on Sunday’s even several times. He started collecting various bits of junk from all over, read all the newspapers he could (morning and evening) and worked, worked, worked -without anyone ever realising- on his magnum opus; The Story of the Vivian Girls, in what is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. It is a story of a war between children and the Glandelinians, who have taken children as their slaves. It mostly start the heroines, the seven Vivian sisters, Abbiennian princesses. His story exists of twelve massiva volumes taking up about 15000 pages. Not even before finishing his story, Henry felt the need to create something more tangible and began illustrating his book. After experimenting with various techniques and practising ferociously, Darger found the perfect balance between tracing figures, collage, photo enlargement and watercolour. I could focus on the story and theories of underlying meaning of his work but today I’d just like to show you some of this great use of colour and amazing compositions.

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Most of his works are drawn on large, broad papers which he glued together himself. All of the papers show you the narrative in meticulous detail.

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I am in awe of his use of colour. His contrasts are utterly divine in my eyes.

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And I really love the whimsicalness of it all.

I’ve quickly put up a gallery of all the works I found on line which are of reasonable quality here. There is lots out there but it seemed to me most of it was of utterly abominable quality and the good images were splattered all over the web in various places. So why not upload all those I love on one page, I said to myself. And so I did.

If you’d like to know more about this man, and how crazy he really was, I highly recommend you to watch In the Realms of the Unreal, an excellent documentary on Henry Darger.