Henry Darger: Author/Artist

January 20-May 29, 2017

Curated by Michael Bonesteel

Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973). COLONEL JACK F EVANS, mid-twentieth century. Watercolor, pencil, ink, and collage on board, 13 ¾ x 11 ½ in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, museum purchase, 2002.22.5. © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth, © American Folk Art Museum/Art Resource, NY.

Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973). COLONEL JACK F EVANS, mid-twentieth century. Watercolor, pencil, ink, and collage on board, 13 ¾ x 11 ½ in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, museum purchase, 2002.22.5. © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth, © American Folk Art Museum/Art Resource, NY.

In the juxtaposition of Henry Darger’s art and writings, audiences can explore how the artist approached related subjects in different mediums. Surprising to many, Henry Darger created very few works of art that depict specific episodes from his epic novel, Realms of the Unreal.

For example, he made numerous captioned references to a fictional location called “Jennie Richee” in his artwork, but there are only occasional brief mentions of this place in the Realms novel. Nothing significant happened at Jennie Richee in the written story, yet there are dozens of scenes depicting events occurring at Jennie Richee in his art. Therefore, it seems likely that his art was an extension of, and an improvisation on, his writing—more than it was an illustration of it.

Similar examinations of Darger’s writings and artwork have been performed in scholarly essays but never presented in a museum or gallery setting where viewers can see an actual work of art next to a facsimile of a corresponding page of text. In fact, pages from the Realms are almost never exhibited except for the occasional display of a Realms volume from the permanent collection of the American Folk Art Museum, so it is a rare opportunity to see Darger’s art and read his words in one and the same viewing.

Visit the following links to read coverage of this exhibition:
Chicago Gallery News
Newcity


Special thanks to the American Folk Art Museum, New York, for its generous loans of Henry Darger artworks and archives.