12.2.09

REALMS OF THE UNREAL

The remarkable story of Henry Darger:









This is unreal.  My boyfriend Eric was telling me about this guy he had remembered reading about who had this crazy secret life as an epic storywriter/artist.  After some google searching Eric found Henry Darger.
      Darger "was one of those people hardly anyone notices, who, seemingly, move through life as shadows."  In 1905, at the age of 13, after his father died he was "institutionalized as feeble-minded. . .A series of excapes ended successfully in 1908. . . he found menial employment in a Catholic hospital and in this fashion continued to support himself for the following 50 years. . . he attended Mass daily, frequently returning for as many as five services; he collected and saved a bewildering array of trash from the streets. His dress was shabby; he was a solitary.  In 1930 he settled into a second-floor room on Chicago's north side.  It was in this room, more than 40 years later, after his death in 1973, that Darger's extraordinary secret life was discovered." 
      Over the course of 40 years he had created "12 massive volumes composed of some 19,000 pages of legal-sized paper filled with single-spaced typing entitled '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.'"  His epic tale tells the story of the seven Vivian sisters who were Abbiennian princesses and the wars between the nations on a huge made-up planet.  
     He would trace images of people and little girls from books and use collage for his elaborate drawings, sometimes as big as 4x12 feet.  His landlord, photographer Nathan Lerner, discovered this astounding collection after Darger's death in 1972.    A movie was made about Darger in 2004 by Jessica Yu (i'm putting that at the top of my Netflix asap!)

Holy shit, i love outsider artists.


All quotations from "Realms of the Unreal" by Stephen Prokopoff

4 comments:

Let's Bolt said...

There's a great film on Darger narrated by Dakota Fanning, it's totally creepy!

His books are hard to find for less than 500 bucks but I have a hunch you can do it Mols!

rackkandruin said...

I do have a way of finding. . .

alden said...

I've always LOVED the story of Darger. You didn't even touch upon the fact that all of the little girls had male genitalia because he didn't know any better. Amazing. How 'bout THAT for androgyny.

Side note: The day I moved into my apartment three years ago my roommate Joel was watching this film in the living room. I knew I had found my home.

Britta said...

I LOVE Darger- if you go to NYC, check out the Museum of Folk Art, next to the MOMA, which has a bunch of his stuff- kind of unexpected amidst conservative Colonial portraiture and furniture!
And the androgeny is remarkable!