DocuWatch on Facebook
Art America Britain History Science Societies War Shop
DocuWatch

In the Realms of the Unreal

« Great Artists - Whistler

Inside New York's Art World »

Description

From Wikipedia

In the Realms of the Unreal

Henry Joseph Darger
(April12, 1892 April13, 1973)
was a reclusive American writer and artist who worked as a janitor in Chicago, Illinois. He has become famous for his posthumously discovered 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-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several hundred drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating the story. Darger's work has become one of the most celebrated examples of outsider art.

darger1.jpg

Darger was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Rosa Fullman and Henry Joseph Darger, Sr. He is believed to have been born on April 12, 1892, though his exact date of birth is a subject of debate. A record exists of his U.S. draft registration card, filled out on June 2, 1917 during the First World War, which lists his birth date as April 17, 1892.

Cook County records show that he was born at his home, located at 350 W. 24th Street in Chicago. When he was four years old, his mother died after having given birth to a daughter, who was given up for adoption; Henry Darger never knew his sister. Darger's biographer, the art historian and psychologist John M. MacGregor, discovered that Rosa had two children before Henry, but did not discover their whereabouts.

darger2.jpg

By Darger's own report, his father, Henry Sr., was kind and reassuring to him, and they lived together until 1900. In that year, the crippled and impoverished Darger Sr. had to be taken to live at St. Augustine's Catholic Mission home and his son was placed in a Catholic boys' home. Darger Sr. died in 1905, and his son was institutionalized in Lincoln, Illinois, with the diagnosis, according to Stephen Prokopoff, that "Little Henry's heart is not in the right place." According to John MacGregor, the diagnosis was actually "self-abuse" (at the time, this term was a euphemism for masturbation, rather than self-injury).

darger3.jpg

Darger himself felt that much of his problem was being able to see through adult lies and becoming a smart-aleck as a result, which often led to his being disciplined by teachers and ganged up on by classmates. He also went through a lengthy phase of feeling compelled to make strange noises (perhaps as a result of Tourette Syndrome, or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), which irritated others. The Lincoln asylum's practices included forced labor and severe punishments, which Darger seems to have worked into In the Realms of the Unreal. He later said that, to be fair, there were also good times there, he enjoyed some of the work, and he had friends as well as enemies. While he was there, he received word that his father had died. A series of attempted escapes ended successfully in 1908. According to his autobiography, he walked back to Chicago from the asylum for "feeble-minded children" in Lincoln, and it was on this journey that he witnessed a huge tornado that devastated the central Illinois area. He described it as "a wind convulsion of nature tremendous beyond all man's conception". There was a tornado that hit the eastern edge of Tampico, Illinois, on November 25, 1908, at 7 p.m. Many barns, windmills and out buildings were turned over, smashed and demolished. Dwellings suffered a small amount of damage. No one was injured and no livestock killed. Tampico is located about 40 miles east-northeast of Moline and approximately 110 miles west of Chicago and 125 miles due north of Lincoln.

The 16-year-old returned to Chicago and, with the help of his godmother, found menial employment in a Catholic hospital and in this fashion continued to support himself until his retirement in 1963.

darger4.jpg

Except for a brief stint in the U.S. Army during World War I, his life took on a pattern that seems to have varied little: 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, although he attempted to keep his clothes clean and mended. He was largely solitary; his one close friend, William Shloder, was of like mind on the subject of protecting abused and neglected children, and the pair proposed founding a "Children's Protective Society," which would put such children up for adoption to loving families. Shloder left Chicago sometime in the mid-1930s, but he and Darger stayed in touch through letters until Shloder's death in 1959.

darger5.jpg

In 1930, Darger settled into a second-floor room on Chicago's North Side, at 851 W. Webster Avenue, in the Lincoln Park section of the city, near the DePaul University campus. It was in this room, more than 40 years later, after his death in 1973, that Darger's extraordinary secret life was discovered.

Darger's landlords, Nathan and Kiyoko Lerner, came across his work shortly before his death, a day after his birthday, on April 13, 1973. Nathan Lerner, an accomplished photographer whose long career the New York Times wrote "was inextricably bound up in the history of visual culture in Chicago", recognized immediately the artistic merit of Darger's work. By this time Darger was in the Catholic mission St. Augustine's, operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, where his father had died.

darger6.jpg

The Lerners took charge of the Darger estate, publicizing his work and contributing to projects such as the 2004 documentary In the Realms of the Unreal. In cooperation with Kiyoko Lerner, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art dedicated the Henry Darger Room Collection in 2008 as part of its permanent collection. Darger has become internationally recognized thanks to the efforts of people who knew to save his works. After Nathan Lerner's death in 1997, Kiyoko Lerner became the sole figure in charge of both her husband and Darger's estates. The U.S. copyright representative for Estate of Henry Darger and the Estate of Nathan Lerner is the Artists Rights Society.

Darger is buried in All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois, in a plot called "The Old People of the Little Sisters of the Poor Plot." Darger's headstone is inscribed "Artist" and "Protector of Children."

Tags

Other videos in channel "Art of America":

American Visions American Visions An Evening with Frank Stella An Evening with Frank Stella Andrew Newell Wyeth Andrew Newell Wyeth
Andy Warhol Andy Warhol Andy Warhol - The Complete Picture Andy Warhol - The Complete Picture
Andy Warhol 1/2 Andy Warhol 1/2 Andy Warhol 2/2 Andy Warhol 2/2 Art City Art City
Art of America - 01 Art of America - 01 Art of America - 02 Art of America - 02
Art of America - 03 Art of America - 03 Barnes the Collector Barnes the Collector Colored Frames Colored Frames
Confessions of Robert Crumb Confessions of Robert Crumb Cool School Cool School Edward Hopper Edward Hopper
Five Artists Five Artists Great Artists - Whistler Great Artists - Whistler In the Realms of the Unreal In the Realms of the Unreal
Inside New York's Art World Inside New York's Art World Jackson Pollack Jackson Pollack Jackson Pollock Biography Jackson Pollock Biography
Jackson Pollock Documentary Jackson Pollock Documentary James Abbott McNeill Whistler James Abbott McNeill Whistler Jasper Johns Jasper Johns
Louis Comfort Tiffany Louis Comfort Tiffany Mel Leipzig Mel Leipzig Modern Masters: Andy Warhol Modern Masters: Andy Warhol
Nineteen American Masterworks Nineteen American Masterworks Norman Rockwell Norman Rockwell Open University Art - Rothko, The Seagram Murals Open University Art - Rothko, The Seagram Murals
Painters Painting - The New York Art Scene 1940-1970 Painters Painting - The New York Art Scene 1940-1970 Popaganda Popaganda Power Of Art - Rothko Power Of Art - Rothko
Private Life Of A Masterpiece - Whistler's Mother Private Life Of A Masterpiece - Whistler's Mother Ray Johnson Ray Johnson Robert Motherwell Robert Motherwell
Rothko's Room Rothko's Room Roy Lichtenstein Roy Lichtenstein The Art of Crystal Bridges The Art of Crystal Bridges
The Epic History of Art in America: Cubism, Impressionism, Minimalism (1997) The Epic History of Art in America: Cubism, Impressionism, Minimalism (1997) The Million Pound Book The Million Pound Book The World of Kermit Shafer The World of Kermit Shafer
Thomas Kinkade Thomas Kinkade Tulsa Deco Tulsa Deco Waiting For Hockney Waiting For Hockney
William Kloss Talk - Modern American Realism William Kloss Talk - Modern American Realism    
Video channels
Video channels
Videos in this channel
AdSense
Featured
Featured
Featured