Henry Darger

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Henry Darger is classified as an outsider artist (a term coined by art critic Roger Cardinal, also known as art brut).
Over 43 years of his life, Darger wrote 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called 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, along with several hundred drawings and water-colour paintings illustrating the story.

Darger had a troubled childhood, in which he was permanently separated from his sister who was given up for adoption and later was given to a Catholic boy’s home where he was bullied, self harmed and from which he continually tried to escape after hearing that his father had died.  It goes without saying that much of the traumatic things Darger experienced affected him mentally and were eventually expressed through the medium of his books and illustrations until Darger was admitted to a mental asylum towards the end of his life. His work was discover posthumously (if that makes sense).

Darger’s works centre around themes such as his love of children, his religion and a fantastical escapism all inspired by his own life, the likes of works such as the wizard of Oz and a newspaper articles like the account of the murder of a 5 year old girl named Elsie Paroubeck.  Darger illustrated his stories using a technique of traced images cut from magazines and catalogues, arranged in large panoramic landscapes and painted in watercolours, some as large as 30 feet wide and painted on both sides. He wrote himself into the narrative as the children’s protector.

Although Darger could hardly be called a propagandist there is a strong agenda behind his stories which vaguely evangelises the promotion of the Catholic God and perhaps more than this the condemnation of child abuse.

(Also the illustrations a psychologically fascinating and absolutely stunning but that could be an opinion.)

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