THE DISTURBED GENIUS OF OUTSIDER ARTIST HENRY DARGER
A reclusive caretaker and his warped fantastical empire
by KOD Staff
He has inspired writers, fashion designers and rock musicians. Henry Darger has been compared to Andy Warhol, Balthus and Dr Seuss. Although he painted and wrote in obscurity until the day he died, he remains America's archetypal outsider artist. Darger has been called a pedophile, a sadist, a religious fanatic loner, and a hoarder who scavenged Chicago's North Side for the magazines, catalogs, newspapers, that inspired his art.
The autistic artist lived an isolated existence as a hospital caretaker. After his death in 1973, his landlord discovered a 15,000 page work bound in 15 volumes created over 6 decades, this vast body of work comes with a fittingly lengthy title, “ 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”. He created this fanatical existence as a means of escape from his disturbed and lonely mind.
Darger's hand written text and enormous scrolls of illustrative paintings and collage focused mainly on the adventures of a group of pre-pubescent girls as they combat a child slave rebellion set within obscure mythical creatures in Edwardian settings, where he writes himself in as the children’s protector. Yet his work remains misunderstood, as his iconography is beautiful yet disturbing flutter between tranquil fields with frolicking sprites and scenes of mutilation and massacre filled with Hermaphroditic children with rams horns, butterfly wings, children stalked, strangled and butchered. Darger’s posthumous work will forever be shrouded in mystery, making his work all the more alluring.